Langfield Entertainment
40 Asquith Ave., Suite 207, Toronto, ON  M4W 1J6
(416) 677-5883


Updated:  March 24, 2005

Happy Easter!  Easter already?  For those that celebrate this holiday, I hope that you all remember the joy associated with this celebration of triumph over tribulation.  Otherwise, celebrate safely with friends and family. 

And no, it’s not your imagination – this newsletter is coming to you one day early this week.  Leaving for Cali tomorrow - just a reminder that there won't be a newsletter on March 31, 2005 as I will be vacationing with some good people in San Jose, California. 

Updates on the 2005 Junos, k-os and concert reviews of Jill Scott, The Game as well as Alicia Keys and John Legend.  Check out the rest of the entertainment news below - MUSIC NEWS, FILM NEWS, TV NEWS, and OTHER NEWS!  Have a read and a scroll!  This newsletter is designed to give you some updated entertainment-related news and provide you with our upcoming event listings.   Welcome to those who are new members.  Want your events listed by date?  Check out EVENTS






United Way JAZZ JAM - Friday, April 22, 2005

Source:  United Way of Greater Toronto

An evening of smooth jazz from United Way’s African Canadian Committee to the jazz lovers of Toronto with Molly Johnson, Liberty Silver and Eddie Bullen.  Join Toronto’s own, internationally acclaimed jazz all-stars in a rare gathering right here at home. Molly Johnson, Liberty Silver and Eddie Bullen donate their award-winning talent to benefit United Way.

All proceeds go to United Way of Greater Toronto.

FRIDAY, APRIL 22, 2005
United Way JAZZ JAM
George Weston Recital Hall
Toronto Centre for the Arts
5040 Yonge St. (just north of Sheppard)
8:00 pm
Tickets - $55 or $40 Contact Ticketmaster at 416-870-8000 or

For more information, please contact Joy Bullen at 416-777-1444 ext 387 or







Inspiring Young Women To Achieve Essay Contest

Source:  YWCA

Win 2 tickets to be at the most prestigious awards dinner in Toronto ($350 Value) ENTER HERE.  Write about a woman who inspires you and win a chance for you and a friend to be inspired at YWCA Toronto's 25th annual Women of Distinction Awards.  The Inspiring Women to Achieve Essay Contest encourages young women (ages 14-24) to explore their goals and dreams for the future by writing about real women who inspire them. 2005 marks the silver anniversary of YWCA Toronto's Women of Distinction Awards recognizing women who inspire other women to achieve. For  contest details HERE. 

Email:; Phone: 416.961.8100 ext. 344







Motivational Note: Are You Trapped by the Autopilot Dilemma?

Excerpt from - -- by Jason Gracia

An epidemic is occurring all around you, and there is a good chance it has already found its way into your life. It begins slowly at first, nearly imperceptible. But it grows. In time it can take over your entire life. I have seen it happen too many times, and if you don't act now, it may happen to you. It's easy to fall into the trap. Well-intentioned individuals of all ages don't mean for it to happen, but that doesn't matter. It takes much more than good intentions to steer clear of this problem. If all it took was good intentions the world would be packed with people living their dreams and accomplishing their goals. But that's not how it works, and this trap is one of the most common reasons why it has happened too often in the past, and will continue to happen in the future. What exactly are we dealing with here? What is so deadly to the goals and hopes you have stored away in your head? Routine.

The Results of an Amazing Experiment

A very unusual experiment was conducted by John Fabre, the French naturalist, consisting of processionary caterpillars, a type of caterpillar that blindly follows the one in front of it. This explains the name processionary caterpillar. The experiment consisted of several of these caterpillars, a flowerpot filled to the rim with dirt, and pine needles. The caterpillars formed a complete circle around the rim of the flowerpot, with the first one touching the back of the last one. The pine needles, the food of the processionary caterpillar, were placed in the centre of the circle. The caterpillars began their procession around the flowerpot, one following the other in a circle. This went on hour after hour, day after day, for an entire week. In the end, every one of the caterpillars dropped dead of starvation. The one thing that could have saved them was only six inches away, but without purposeful thought or action, the caterpillars continued with a habitual routine that eventually proved too much to endure.

Could this Happen to You?

This is happening to people you know, maybe even you, although not to this degree. Get stuck doing the same old thing every single day and your goals, sitting only inches away, are as good as gone. Plain and simple. You might think it's a little too simple, but falling into a routine can destroy your life. I have very strong beliefs about this because I have seen it happen to people close to me, as I'm sure you have as well. Good friends and family start off with bright hopes for the future, but their routine begins to take their place. 'No time, no time,' is a common excuse. After seventy years of having no time to do the things you have always wanted to do you'll end up with nothing but a good excuse in the end. This is your life we are talking about here. It's worth taking the time to break the pattern of habit and creating the changes you wish to make. There is little more that is as important as the life you create and the good you leave behind. Recognize if you are in a routine and break free. Sometimes it's a matter of an attribute we all seek in life - confidence. Permanent change requires courage and a strong belief in your ability to succeed, something that we all doubt from time to time.







The History Of Urban Genres At The Juno Awards

Source: - By Wendy Vincent, UMAC Publicity Director

The JUNO Awards began in 1970 and were firmly established in 1975, which marked the first year of the event as a nationally televised Canadian music awards show.  2001 marked the 15th anniversary of urban music categories at the JUNOs with a defining performance by Deborah Cox, Choclair, Baby Blue Sound Crew, Kardinal Offishall, Jully Black and Sean Paul, jacksoul, Maestro, Dream Warriors, Michie Mee, Ghetto Concept and Rascalz.

That year, UMAC Lifetime Achievement Award recipient and urban music stalwart Daniel Caudeiron was awarded the Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award and entered the Canadian Music Hall of Fame for his work in promoting urban music in Canada. It was Caudeiron who led the push to add JUNO categories for urban music in 1985, when R&B and Calypso categories were added to the show.  Jazz went before "urban" as UMAC Lifetime Achievement Award recipient and living legend Oscar Peterson became a first-time nominee back in 1977. He is in the running again this year for DVD of the Year. A three-time JUNO winner, Peterson is one of the most nominated artists in JUNO history.

We can't forget those artists who have taken urban music to the mainstream - artists such as Deborah Cox, who was nominated for Best Female Artist in 1997 and 1999 and Choclair, who was nominated for Best Male Artist in 2000.  This strong crossover presence continues today. Triple-nominee K-OS is up for Single of the Year for "Crabbuckit" and video of the year for "B-Boy Stance" (in addition to his nomination for Rap Recording of the Year). He is joined by two-time nominee, Keshia Chanté, who is in the running for New Artist this year (as well as R&B/Soul Recording of the Year).




Awards Show Honours The Best In Quebec's Hip Hop Industry


On Sunday, March 13, Montréal-Underground hosted its first-ever Hip Hop Gala, honouring Quebec's finest Hip Hop artists.

23 awards were presented, including:

Best Album (Anglophone): Exposé - FP Crew
Best Album (Francophone): Tristes et Belles Histoires - Daniel Russo Garrido Boogat
Best Lyrics (Anglophone): Baby Mother - Butta Babees
Best Lyrics (Francophone): Le jour où rien n'a change - Daniel Russo Garrido Boogat
Best Artist/Group (Francophone): Daniel Russo Garrido Boogat
Best Artist/Group (Anglophone): FP Crew
Best Single: "I Leave, I Love, I Leave" - Dramatik
Best Reggae Artist/Group: Kulcha Connection
Best Collaboration: "24 Heures à vivre" - Muzion & Wyclef Jean
Artist with the Most Recognition Outside Québec: Corneille

For more info, visit




K-OS: Breaking Old Ground

Excerpt from - By Jarrod Miller-Dean

K-OS took the Hip-Hop scene by storm with his video for “Super Star Part Zero.” A vivid but simple look at the post-modern B-Boy even made its way to the top. Not since Choclair’s debut, had so many Stateside eyes been on talent in Canada. But the album sales didn’t quite match the strength of the single.   With the release of his new album, Joyful Rebellion, he once again brings a new level of stamina to Hip-Hop. The Trinidad born MC is calm and focused in demeanour with Just as his music, he has a concentrated creativeness, even hours before traveling across the world.   As 2005 continues to link listeners with K-OS, it certainly would’ve been tragic had he kept his promise to release only one album. Get to know one of the pure-thinkers of the mainstream, and travel the depths of K-OS’ mind. I have to ask this, how’d you come up with the spelling for your name?

K-OS: It was a gradual thing. I didn’t want to have the same spelling [chaos] as in the dictionary, “Noun. A state of utter confusion.” I’m didn’t want to embody that kind of energy. I messed with different spellings and meanings. It’s a reminder of what I’m on a mission to do. I heard that Exit was supposed to be your first and last album. What made you change your mind?

K-OS: Music made me change my mind. When you have a good day, you smile and laugh. You realize that things aren’t really as bad as you originally thought. I was inspired by different areas of music. I finished a lot in a short span of time. Do you consider yourself a conscious rapper?

K-OS: I’m a self-conscious rapper. I am aware of myself. I believe in self-investigation and examination. What makes this album different from the previous?

K-OS: Perfectionism. The next thing is always better than the previous. On your album, I really dug “B-boy Stance” What inspired you on that track?

K-OS: Chuck D., Mos Def, Sticky Fingaz… Really, Sticky Fingaz? I can’t say I see that connection.

K-OS: “Slam” made me envision someone in a B-boy stance. Sticky even said it, “I’m a B-boy in my B-boy stance. Hurry up and give me the microphone before I bust in my pants.” Who and what inspired you when you were growing up?

K-OS: My father inspired me. He showed me that that intelligence was more important than anything. He was also a big Jazz fan. I got all of my samples for the first album, from his collection. What’s your favourite Jazz album?

K-OS: Anything by Miles Davis. I enjoy his music for his teachings. I learn from them. Tell me about the Canadian Hip-Hop scene lately.

K-OS: It’s really positive. It’s still small though. There are never more than one or two MC’s in the spot light at a time. There’s too much main-stream culture. It’s harder to have a broader spectrum in Canada. Who should we be on the look out for?

K-OS: I’m not even sure. In the Toronto are there’s the Rascalz, Saukrates, Shelly Stone. Is there really distinction from your Hip-Hop to United States Hip-Hop?

K-OS: We’re young, so we’re still trying to find a voice. Most of us are first and second generation Canadians. Our parents came here. We’re trying to rap, but we’re trying to express ourselves on a conscious level. Explain the particular style you created for yourself.

K-OS: I don’t have a style. I’m just expressing myself. I try to observe from the outside. I’m inspired by so many rappers that it makes me different. Rakim, Mos Def, Talib, Q-Tip all had big influences on me. Canada doesn’t have any older brothers to look up to, so the lyrics become diverse. I never listen to someone to copy their style. Style is self-conscious. I believe that self-inner light is my inspiration. I’m about self-knowledge. Your music is very diverse and you’re also originally from Trinidad, tell me how that affects you music?

K-OS: You can make music out of anything. When I was a kid, you could sit and watch someone carve out a drum all day. I used to watch them for hours. I began to do it also. You can make music out of anything around you. You mentioned Canadian Hip-Hop, but what do you think about the current state of Hip-Hop?

K-OS: I’m more concerned wit the current state of the world. Hip-hop is part of that. As children of the world, we’re growing. How do you feel that your album got a larger response than Kweli and Mos Def?

K-OS: In Canada, my album went Platinum. But that’s where I’m from. Mos Def and Talib are experimental. Later on, people will go back and realize how amazing it was. It will be new to them. MC’s get tired of doing the same thing. They try to express themselves in different ways. Good artists will trust in themselves. Nas does that. He expresses himself in different ways. It makes us go from the left to the right. What’s next for you?

K-OS: I’m doing ten dates with Handsome Boy Modeling School. I noticed that after “Superstar” getting crazy play two years ago, I haven’t seen that many of you videos on TV?

K-OS: They first come out in Canada. I have a few of them. They don’t get as much, or any airplay anymore in the U.S. on stations like MTV or BET, but they’re there.




Rap Struts With CBC Orchestra

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Alexandra Gill

(Mar. 21, 2005) VANCOUVER — What happens when you mix Canada's hottest hip-hop artist with the acclaimed 30-piece CBC Radio Orchestra in a live studio recording that also incorporates a tabla player, turntablist, electric guitar and preprogrammed drum beat? A catchy six-minute track called Burning to Shine, which might become the first hit rap song ever commissioned by a public broadcaster.  Kheaven Brereton, the Canadian hip-hop artist better known as k-os, spent four days last week in the CBC's Vancouver studios, composing, recording and mixing the new song, which will begin airing exclusively on CBC Radio on April 4. The single will have its commercial release three months later. And the entire project, which was conceived and documented by the producers of CBC's experimental, late-night ZeD TV, will culminate in a one-hour documentary to be broadcast next fall. A DVD will follow. "The idea of strings with programmed beats and rapping on top of it is not new to my music-making process," says k-os. His last album, Joyful Rebellion, blended the singer's non-conformist style of rap with flamenco, jazz, rock and R&B. It earned bold accolades from many U.S. critics and is up for three Juno nominations at next month's award show in Winnipeg. "But, I think the fact that the orchestra here played to a drum machine is pretty radical," adds k-os, who had nothing but the highest praise for orchestra conductor Tanya Miller. "Tanya had to reinterpret that song to them, and it was pretty funky. She killed it. It was beautiful." The musician's composer-in-residence gig began last winter, when he first came to Vancouver to meet musical director Jon Siddall and write the song. The drama mounted when k-os returned to Toronto and decided to ditch the original for something less orchestral.

"It was kind of boring," he recalls. "I went home, got my sampler out, programmed some drums and said here's the new song." Orchestra manager Denise Ball had "a huge problem" with it, k-os says. "I think they liked the first song because it wasn't pushing anything. Now it's got the nod factor. It's got a hip-hop vibe with all these strings. I think it's way more interesting to have these worlds colliding, rather than just have me trying to do something that was conducive to the orchestra." Not everyone was as impressed. Andrew Craig, the new host of In Performance, CBC Radio Two's flagship classical program, was part of Tuesday's small studio audience, when the song was recorded on a tight, 2½ -hour deadline. "It's a pop track, not an orchestral piece," Craig said disappointedly. "It doesn't push any boundaries." Everyone is going to have an opinion, k-os says. But the end result could have been much safer. "The revolution is in the idea, not the product. In a revolution, I'm the guy who throws the trashcan through the window. Now someone else can take it to the next level."




Jill Scott Sings Of Love, Fear And Lust

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Ashante Infantry, Entertainment Reporter

(Mar. 18, 2005) When last we saw our heroine, she was on the verge of launching her sophomore record. A lot has happened for singer/songwriter Jill Scott since that mini-concert at the Guvernment last August.  She was a rare opening act for Prince during the Philadelphia stop of his tour; she celebrated her third wedding anniversary; she won her first Grammy award for "Cross My Mind"; and she compiled a book of poetry The Moments, the Minutes, the Hours coming out next month.  But one thing hasn't changed for Scott, 33, as she took the stage at Massey Hall on Wednesday: she still isn't selling the number of records befitting an artist of her calibre.  Though critically acclaimed, Beautifully Human: Words and Sounds Vol. 2 has yet to sell a million copies.  Never mind the Queen of this and the Princess of that, or the one-named singers and their clothing lines — when it comes to soul and R&B today, Scott reigns above them all. And while she's great on disc, she's superb live.  That's why the flat, disjointed opening of her Massey Hall show was puzzling. She and the Fat Back Taffy Band were out of sync. And the capacity crowd wasn't giving her the love her fans typically display.  Something wasn't right.  "Either you're going to open up and enjoy this lovely program we've prepared for you this evening or ... ," Scott admonished, pointing to the exits.  She didn't have to tell them twice. The audience was on its feet for "Golden" — the theme of the night, from the sunny hue the lights cast on the stage, to the buttery accented garb of the eight-piece band, to her radiant smile — and remained standing as she segued into "A Long Walk."  "You can sit down," she said then, "I just needed to feel your energy."  An acute observer and chronicler, she sings of love and its shadings — jealousy, fear, discovery, lust, forgiveness, temptation, self-esteem and rejection.  You get the feeling that the teacher's college dropout doesn't just want to entertain, but truly engender more harmony between the sexes.  And that may mean not selling out stadiums, or winning countless music video awards.




On Stage, Rapper Not At Top Of His Game

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Andrew Gorham

(Mar. 21, 2005) Why were there just 400 half-interested people at the half-empty Kool Haus Saturday night? And, were they not waving their arms in the air? Because they just don't care? Gangsta rapper The Game and his entourage banged into town, riding a wave of hype and buzz generated by the success of his first CD, The Documentary. The disc debuted at No. 1 two months ago and currently sits at No. 3. Since then, Game -- born Jayceon Taylor -- has landed two singles in the top 20 (How We Do and Hate It or Love It), has sold about 1.5 million CDs, and has had his name splashed across the press for both his impressive appearance on the hip-hop scene and his public beef with chart-, sales- and radio-dominating fellow gangsta and label mate 50 Cent. (They've since kissed and made up.) But on this night, away from the media hype, the mixing board, and the backing support of his producer, the legendary Dr. Dre of NWA fame, the Game, 25, simply didn't have enough in his bag to carry the show. The crowd knew it and so did he, admitting as much halfway through a mangled and stepped-on Dreams, the Kanye West-produced flow about Game's determination to make it to the top of the hip-hop world. The track shines on the disc. Live, not so much. "C'mon man, one more verse" he urged the crowd as he plodded his way through the rhymes. "I know your shit is tired. I'm tired too." And earlier, when trying to get Start From Scratch, a touching and earnest lament for all his friends who died from gang violence, off the ground, Game stumbled and stopped the song. He tried again, forgot the words and again shut the song down.

"I apologize today to you all. Start From Scratch is dead, so what you all wanna hear?" Maybe it had to do with the blunt he'd just smoked for the crowd's delight. Or maybe he just doesn't have his rhymes down. Either way, there's a huge disconnect here between the polished beat and smooth flow on the CD and the man allegedly behind it; a disconnect between the hype and the product on stage. Game's back-story is compelling enough. Back in his beloved Compton neighbourhood, Game, a Blood, was gang-banging, dealing drugs and acting like an all-round bad actor. In 2001, he was shot five times with his own 9 mm during a drug robbery. Near dead, he drifted in and out of a coma in a hospital for months, recovered and decided to put down the guns and pick up a mike. He studied the "classics," as he puts it, -- Tupac, Snoop and the rest of the old school West Coasters -- made a name for himself on the mixed-tape circuit and landed an audience with Dre. A year-and-a-half later, he's out to put L.A. back on the hip-hop map. An admirable enough goal, and if he gets rich in the meantime, power to him. But when it's game time, you better have the goods, or the notoriously fickle consumer buying your product will drop you faster than Eminem drops beats. Now to carry a restless crowd in a cavernous venue, alone with a mike and a DJ behind you is no easy task. Rockers on an off night can hide behind their band, or the stage show, or their instruments. But rappers don't have that luxury. They need to have something inside them that makes you stop and take notice. They need charisma, humour, rage, intelligence and above all, a commanding presence that says "you simply can't ignore me." On Saturday, Game showed none of that. Instead he took his shirt off, strutted and fretted through 10 songs and revealed what his producers should never let you see: a young rapper barely two years into his trade, stripped of the bells and whistles that come with the CD. No Kanye, no Eminem, no 50, Busta or Dre. Just a former gangsta half-heartedly shouting into a mike, hoping to get a new life. Hoping this rap thing will make some sense of his otherwise senseless and bloodied past. Game gamely tried for an encore at the end of the night, calling out for requests. But the gig was up. "I got no more songs. I only got one CD," he shrugged. "We'll just put the whole show on again." Well, he could have done that. But that wouldn't make much sense, would it?




Alicia Keys & John Legend Concert Review

Excerpt from - By Gerald Radford /

(Mar. 22, 2005)  Organizers had the right idea when they decided to pair John Legend, an artist on the “come up,” with the accomplished Alicia Keys for a tour. The two artists certainly seem to operate with the same spirit of raw, from-the-soul artistry.  However, since today’s artists typically need a host of choreographed dancers, pyrotechnics, props, etc. to make a show compelling enough to woo potential concertgoers, would Keys and Legend be enough, considering they rely mainly on charisma and heart-felt vocals to get their points across? To avoid unnecessary suspense, absolutely!  They successfully held their own at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood, performing to an enthused melting pot of fans. A fledgling German artist, who, unfortunately, didn't quite have it together, kicked off the sold-out show; but shortly thereafter, Legend entered the stage and “lifted” the crowd by performing “Get Lifted” from his critically acclaimed debut album. He only has the one relatively new album in major distribution, but that didn’t prevent the show from becoming a sing-along for the many fans that apparently have very quickly familiarized themselves with his body of work.  But, since he was one of the opening acts, he was treated as such. There was a lot of movement and the house lights were up during his entire performance, but his energy managed to produce a natural spotlight of sorts.  He arrested the audience’s attention and rewarded them for it. The unassuming Legend went on to employ his gritty, yet pure vocal styling to delight the audience with spirited performances of “Used to Love You,” the Uncle Snoop influenced, “I Can Change,” and an emotion-evoking rendition of the hit “Ordinary People,” among others. He finished his set to a standing ovation. After Legend exited the stage and the curtain was dropped, attention was drawn to the right of the stage, where a modest little piano and vintage lamp remained outside the curtains.  It seemed to be the place where Keys was going to sit and croon the night away, which didn’t seem unusual since she’s known for her simplicity.  We patiently waited, and before long, a gentleman dressed as someone from the Big Band era emerged from backstage and began calling on the divas of old, such as Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, etc. 

Citing that none of them would be able to appear, he promised to deliver a comparable substitute – Alicia Keys, and up went the curtain to reveal a dazzling, 30’s style, luminous all-white set, with the musicians and background singers all grouped off Cabaret style. Keys then entered, stylishly dressed in white, complete with a period sequined, feather head dressing.  She was gorgeous!  She managed to light up an already bright stage, energetically bopping and singing her way through a medley of some of her hits set to horn-laden, swing music. It was quite the grand – and unexpected - entrance and it set the stage for a comprehensive show that included a string highlights. Of the show's many highlights, one was her dramatic performance of “Heartburn,” where she provocatively performed stretched out on a chaise lounge, while being fanned by her incredible background vocalists.  They were very convincing.  And speaking of background vocalists, she must’ve hired some of the best in the business.  When Alicia took breaks for costume changes, they interjected beautiful renditions of “Hidey, Hidey Ho,” “God Bless the Child,” and other timeless classics, preparing the atmosphere for Keys to come back and deliver a mesmerizing version of “Good Morning Heartache.”  She did it proud. After that reminiscent segment, Alicia got back to her own catalogue, impressively rendering all her hits, including “My Boo,” “You Don’t Know My Name,” “A Woman’s Worth,” “Diary,” and “Fallin.”  The intro to “Fallin” was so dramatic it wasn’t immediately known what she was leading up to.  She made her way to the center of the stage, assumed a sideways position, then started belting out a note that most have probably never heard her hit. After the fourth wail, she transitioned into “I keep on fallin ...” You know the rest.  She rocked it, and then wrapped her performance up by mounting her grand piano and singing the largely popular, “If I Aint Got You.”  She, no doubt, gave the fans their money’s worth. This was one of the better shows that I’ve attended in a long time.  Though neither Keys nor Legend are known for being a vocal powerhouse, they both utilize their collective talents well and perform from their souls. They make you appreciate and long for genuine artistic expression. If it comes anywhere near you, catch this show – it’s hot.




Cues From Africa Laudably Taken To Violin, Cello

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - William Littler

(Mar. 22, 2005) Look up Africa in the fifth edition of Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians (1954) and you will find only one entry of a few paragraphs on the African Music Society, an organization founded in 1947 to encourage research work on African music.  "As the bulk of all African music is still at the pre-literate stage," the entry patronizingly informs us, "the Society particularly stresses the value of electrical recording through which the peoples of Africa may hear something of the range and character of the continent's music, of which the vast majority is entirely ignorant through such causes as great distances, lack of communications, tribal hostilities, a wholly oral tradition and, latterly, diversion of the indigenous styles by foreign teachers."  Look up Africa in the second edition of the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (2001) and you will find an entry of 19 1/2 two-column pages, followed by a paragraph announcing that the African Music Society is now defunct. How times have changed!  Additional evidence of the change could be found Sunday evening in Cabbagetown's Winchester Street Theatre, where Ensemble Noir presented, as the second concert of its current four-concert series, a program intriguingly titled African Alchemies.  Founded in Toronto "to promote cultural diversity in contemporary classical music," Ensemble Noir is itself only in its fifth season and can already look forward to a three-concert New York debut at the Miller Theatre next January.

On this occasion, its artistic director, Bondani Ndodana, invited fellow South African-born composer-musician Martin Scherzinger and his six-member U.S.-based ensemble to present a recital of "African new and traditional music" from the continent's southern regions.  In a pre-concert talk with Scherzinger, he raised the interesting question of whether the night's program represented a kind of reverse colonization, since such western instruments as the violin, cello and piano would be playing music inspired by and in some cases even including indigenous African music.  Scherzinger acknowledged that yes, his ensemble is trying to transfer onto western instruments some of the characteristics of African music, but insisted that it was doing so while trying to preserve the music's values, hence the use of the transformative word "alchemies" to identify the process.  Whatever the rationale, the process has produced some engaging results. Scherzinger joined a couple of his fellow musicians in performing Shona music on the Zimbabwean thumb piano known as mbira, in addition to offering performances of his own and Kevin Volans' music based on various African musical forms.  To the western ear, it was timely to be reminded that North American minimalism's debt to the patterned repetitions of traditional African music (which is essentially non-developmental) is analogous to the inspiration taken by Pablo Picasso and other classic modernists from African tribal art.  Shifting downbeats, non-functional harmonies, rhythms rooted in dance all gave this African-inspired music a markedly different aural flavour from what we are accustomed to tasting in most western contemporary music programs.  Whether issues of cultural appropriation should be raised remains an open question. Western composers have long shopped in eastern bazaars and in an age of global communication, cultural cross-pollination would seem to have become a fascinating inevitability.




Tweet Does It Again

Excerpt from - By Karu F. Daniels (New York, NY)

(Mar. 21, 2005) The neo-soul wunderkind has made a glorious return to the recorded music landscape with the critically acclaimed sophomore album, It’s Me Again, which arrives in stores tomorrow, March 22. And like with her first album “Southern Hummingbird,” considered a gem by some, she has overcome some obstacles and is ready to share her experiences with the world. “People ask me ‘Aren’t you scared that you’re too open?’ and I say ‘No, I just want to be me and this is who I am. I can’t sugar coat anything. I’m going to write about what I go through and if in that I can help somebody then I’ve done my job.” Tweet, born Charlene Keys, takes a more hands-on approach on the 15-track set, a much brighter than the solemn and atmospheric “Hummingbird,” which delivered a string of radio hits “Oops (Oh My)” and “Call Me,” and subsequently made her a household name.  Her mentor Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliot is still is in the mix, along with former rapper turned neo-hit maker Kwame. “You know I was kind of nervous right?” the Rochester, NY-bred singer/songwriter shared during an intimate interview with “The RU Report.” “With the first album people were like, ‘It’s a classic!’  So [I was thinking] when I went to do this album, does that mean that I have to duplicate ‘Southern Hummingbird’ again?  But I don’t feel that way anymore. I’m not dark. I’m not in that dark place and I just sent my prayers to God and He said ‘just do what’s in your heart.’  And that’s where I am right now.” When Tweet came on the scene in the spring of 2002, by way of Timbaland and Ms. Elliot, the neo-soul community, despite crafty marketing attempts to gloss her up, instantly embraced her as one of their own.  And to add fuel to the flames, a fierce rivalry with another one-named-moniker singer-on-the rise ensued. “You know what, I really didn’t have a feeling about it,” Tweet recalled about the controversial nature of the competition with Ashanti. “I thought we were both young women. I didn’t know she was that younger than me. But I felt that we were both women just having the opportunity to get out there and do some music.  I don’t know how the whole beef came about – well I do know, it was between the two record companies, but I didn’t have any because I feel we are two different artists and we have different messages to give and different music to give so I didn’t feed into it.” Indeed. The then-Murda Inc. princess was making a name for herself singing catchy hooks for rugged rappers like Ja Rule and Fat Joe, and also ghost-singing for J. Lo.

Tweet, on the other hand, focused more on pure musicality and sheer artistry – even strumming on the guitar in video clips.  While each artist were received well by respective musical demographics, the machinery behind Ashanti led her to win Grammy and Soul Train awards and sell millions of records. Although musically the contrasts are very stark between the two  (and the fact that one is at least a decade older than the other), in many ways, Ashanti’s overnight success dwarfed Tweet’s efforts. Undaunted, she toured the country and became a bona fide musical attraction, becoming a cult favourite and wowing crowds at every opportunity. “I always just want to give the people in the audience a sense of some good music and I want the same feeling that I get when I’m singing,” she said of her live show.“ I want to be able to touch the audience.  So when I get the opportunity to perform live, I give it my all, not knowing what I’m going to do either.” Now here’s the irony. Due to the fluctuating nature of the music business, and the shuffling of high-powered music moguls and executives, namely former Def Jam President Lyor Cohen, the same team that brought Ashanti the major success that she’s amassed is commandeering Tweet’s latest project. “It is [weird],” she revealed. “ I thought about that. I was like ‘Wow, funny how the tables turn.’” “But hey,” she said, still not feeding into any hype, “She’s doing her thing and I appreciate that, and I’m back out again and hopefully I can satisfy my fans.” Throughout It’s Me Again, Tweet explores the ups and downs of relationships in the forthright manner that she has become known and respected for.  “I’m Done” is a song she penned after a break-up, while on “My Man” she bluntly tells an ex-chick that ‘you gotta let him go.’ “Cab Ride” features music from the classic TV series “Taxi” and “The Two Of Us,” is a duet with her 15-year-old daughter Tashawna.  “This song honours our relationship because it’s always been just the two of us, ever since she was born,” she commented. Another standout on the set is “Sports, Sex, Food,” which Tweet considers a manual on how to keep a man.  She admittedly isn’t in a relationship, but says the song rings true. “When I heard the record, immediately I said that’s my first single,” she gushed. “It’s about what women should do to keep their man, and I believe that because my brothers said that with those three things you can keep a man. Every time I perform it, men come up to me and say ‘Oh my God, thank you for that.”  It’s an amazing record.” “It ain’t my approach,” she replied when asked why is she single, if she has the ‘answer.’ “It’s the choices that I have,” she giggled, “I ain’t got no choice. Where they at?  Tell me where the men at. I can utilize the song. I got my manual; I know how to keep a man.  I just don’t know where he at.”

Okay. Another reason why people connect so well with Tweet is because of her honesty. She doesn’t pull any punches. It is what it is. And she exudes that. A huge part of her initial publicity campaign talked about her contemplation of suicide and how Ms. Elliot, or that’s how the story went, saved the day. “Just going through life in general and being in that group [Suga] for six years and singing the same 10 songs every year, constantly, never getting anywhere”, she said is what contributed to the down-trodden spirit. “I was also thinking about my daughter and not being able to get a job once I left that, the eight year relationship that went downward. It just seemed as though everything hit the fan at the same time. And I just felt like I wasn’t worthy of anything and I just didn’t want to be here.” While Tweet speaks very highly of the multi-platinum, Grammy Award winning musical force-to-be reckoned with, she attributed her “rising above” to God.  As she should. “I think about that time and I say to myself ‘What was I thinking?’ because it wasn’t even that bad.  And someone else is worst off than me,” she confided. “I had a roof over my head. I had food to eat. I had the activities of my limbs. I had breathing air. So what was I complaining about?” Her overall message: “You can go through things but it feels great to come out of it with an understanding and some peace. I thin k that’s what [this album] represents, for me.” The rollout for the album is off to a great start. Tweet is a presenter at “The 19th Annual Soul Train Music Awards,” which continues to air in national syndication. She’s featured in a fabulous “Spring” spread in the April issue of “Essence” magazine, and has upcoming coverage in periodicals such as “People,” “Ebony” and “Source.” And she’s also singing the theme song for the new revival of the TV series “Kojak,” which stars Ving Rhames and premieres this week.  Now that’s big. “I’m comfortable in my skin,” the Atlanta suburbs transplant, concluded, “and I’m grateful and happy for the blessing that God has bestowed on me. And this is what it is.”   Check out Tweet's new video for "Turn Da Lights Off" here.

  For MORE on Tweet and selections from the super hot  Its Me Again, visit:




Royal Highness:  Queen Of Soul Aretha Franklin Is Holding Court

Excerpt from

(Mar. 21, 2005) Though the multiple Grammy Award winning diva is reportedly in talks to star in the filmed adaptation of the hit Broadway musical “Hairspray” –which was initially a low-budget film-- along with John Travolta and Billy Crystal, she has an array of other projects underway. This week, she announced the inception of her very own music imprint, Aretha Records, which she will release her forthcoming album on in June. According to a spokesperson, Ms. Franklin collaborated with producers Troy Taylor and Mike Powell, and recorded duets with country/pop star Faith Hill, Grammy Award winning gospel sensation Smokie Norful and former Temptations leader Dennis Edwards. It’s been nearly two years since she released the Antonio “LA” Reid-helmed “So Damn Happy” to rave reviews. The new disc hasn’t been titled as of yet, but plans are coming together rather briskly.  Sony/BMG is expected to distribute the record. Since then, she’s been mostly recording, and performing select dates around the country. The new label marks the latest in a series of entrepreneurial ventures for Ms. Franklin, who opened her own booking agency last year. The 16-time Grammy Award winner is set to perform at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., for a gala salute to American popular music of the 1940s being presented by the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Series for Artistic Excellence.  An impressive gathering of music's brightest stars will join Ms. Franklin, including opera star Harolyn Blackwell, crooner Johnny Mathis and country music great Dwight Yoakam. She will return to her gospel roots to headline three nights at the heavily-promoted McDonald's Gospelfest at New York City’s Theater at Madison Square Garden June 1-3.  And in the midst of the proposed promotion of the new music project, Ms. Franklin will also headline this year’s Essence Music Festival in New Orleans, July 1-3, which will also feature performances by Alicia Keys, Destiny’s Child, John Legend and Maze featuring Frankie Beverly. All hail to the Queen.




Motown Remixed: Album Features Producers Reworking Classics

Excerpt from

(Mar. 22, 2005) *Fifteen classic Motown hits have been worked over by prominent DJs and producers on the forthcoming Motown/UMe release, “Motown Remixed,” due May 24.  These producers and remixers were given unprecedented access to the Motown vaults and allowed to sauté some Motown favourites with their own respective special sauce. Among the set’s 15 tracks are the Jackson 5’s "ABC" (remixed by Salaam Remi); Marvin Gaye’s "Let's Get It On" (remixed by Da Producers) and Rick James’ "Mary Jane" (remixed by DJ Green Lantern). On May 10, Motown/UMe will release from the album three vinyl mega-singles ("Volume 1," "Volume 2" and "Volume 3"), which in total will include 10 of the CD’s 15 tracks.   Among the events surrounding the album is a Motown Remixed Tour, featuring DJ Smash, who will bring these remixes as well as a display of DJ skills utilizing the Motown catalogue to 10 cities in May and June (Black Music Month): New York; Los Angeles; Chicago; Detroit; Miami; Atlanta; San Francisco; Philadelphia; Washington, D.C.; and a city to be announced.

Track List:
1. "I Want You Back"/JACKSON 5
2. "I Heard It Through The Grapevine"/GLADYS KNIGHT & THE PIPS
3. "Let's Get It On"/MARVIN GAYE
4. "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours"/STEVIE WONDER
6. "I Just Want To Celebrate"/RARE EARTH
7. "Papa Was A Rolling Stone"/THE TEMPTATIONS
8. "Quiet Storm"/SMOKEY ROBINSON
   "GROOVE BOUTIQUE REMIX," featuring guest soloist ROY AYERS
9. "My World Is Empty Without You"/DIANA ROSS & THE SUPREMES
10. "Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)"/THE TEMPTATIONS
11. "Smiling Faces Sometimes"/UNDISPUTED TRUTH
13. "Keep On Truckin'"/EDDIE KENDRICKS
Bonus Cut
15. "Mary Jane"/RICK JAMES




WE REMEMBER: Starpoint vocalist Renée Diggs; cabaret singer Bobby Short

Excerpt from

(Mar. 22, 2005)  *Renée Diggs, the powerhouse lead singer of the 80s R&B group Starpoint, died on March 18 of reported complications from Multiple Sclerosis.   The singer, born in 1955, was diagnosed with the disease during her time with Starpoint, according to promotions company Hype Enterprises.  The group’s biggest hit, “Object of My Desire,” appeared on the group’s seventh album “Restless.” After the group disbanded in the early 90s after their tenth album, Diggs signed a solo deal with Capitol Records and recorded her first album "Oasis" for the label.  However, the project was shelved and not released at that time.   Even though Diggs was unable to tour following her diagnosis, she continued  singing at local events and coached other singers, according to Hype Enterprises. She had also created the Renée Diggs Multiple Sclerosis foundation.

*Cabaret singer Bobby Short, a fixture at his piano in the Carlyle Hotel for more than 35 years, died of leukemia Monday at New York Presbyterian Hospital, said his publicist. He was 80.  Throughout his 70-year career, Robert Waltrip Short specialized in the “great American songbook”: songs by Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, the Gershwins, Billy Strayhorn, Harold Arlen.  "I go back to what I heard Marian Anderson say once: `First a song has to be beautiful,'" Short told The New York Times in 2002. "However, `beautiful' covers a wide range of things. I have to admire a song's structure and what it's about. But I also have to determine how I can transfer my affection for a song to an audience; I have to decide whether I can put it across."  He was nominated for a Grammy in 2000 for "You're the Top: Love Songs of Cole Porter." In 1993, he was nominated for "Late Night at the Cafe Carlyle."




Lauryn, Wyclef Reunite In Malaysia

Excerpt from

(Mar. 21, 2005) *Lauryn Hill and Wyclef Jean rocked a crowd of about 15,000 people Friday during a day-long charity concert in Malaysia for tsunami victims. “This is history in the making," said Jean, kneeling in front of Hill during the seven-hour “Force of Nature” show at Stadium Putra. "Do you all understand what's happening on this stage? I'm too emotional right now."   The duo sang “Killing Me Softly,” “Ready or Not” and “Fugee-La” from the Fugees' 1996 album, "The Score." While gently chanting "we'll never forget the tsunami victims," Wyclef asked that the stadium lights be turned off while the audience waved – not lighters, but lighted cell phones in the darkness.  Other performers included the Backstreet Boys, Black Eyed Peas and Boyz II Men. The concert raised more than $2.6 million to rebuild tsunami-devastated communities in Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka and India.   Force of Nature, the organization that staged the concert, is spearheaded by former Malaysian diplomat Razali Ismail, the country's tsunami envoy, who said the money will be used to rebuild schools and infrastructure.




Will & Jada Join Mandela For Benefit

Excerpt from

(Mar. 21, 2005) *Nelson Mandela, 86, hosted his second AIDS awareness concert in South Africa Saturday, billed as 46664 – after his old prison number. The former South African President, 86, was joined by honorary master of ceremonies Will Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith; Annie Lennox and Queen to raise awareness of the deadly virus, which Mandela said "carries the face of women" whether through infection or caring for those who are ill with the disease.  Gertrude Maqanda, a woman from a poor township who contracted the virus in 1999, told the crowd of 20,000 how she almost died last year until she received antiretroviral treatment..  "I love you very much," she said, prompting a temporary hush in the crowd and a bear hug from Will Smith. “I have made movies and music," said Smith. "I felt like that's not enough. I want to fight and I want to struggle." Celebrities one by one urged the men in the crowd sprawled across the lawns of the exclusive Fancourt golf estate to take responsibility and throw on a condom before having sex. "I want you to use your power to stay alive," Jada shouted to the ladies. In South Africa, statistics show women and girls are six times more likely to be infected with the AIDS virus than men. Mandela, who lost his eldest son to the disease earlier this year, compared the plight of women coping with AIDS to the isolation he felt when imprisoned for 27 years on Robben Islands for fighting against white racist rule. "Today there are millions of women in Africa living on their own Robben Islands, struggling against terrible odds, alone and often without much hope," he said. "Tonight you and I can say we are here to help give you hope and strength.” He sponsored a first AIDS conference in 1993 in Cape Town. The Saturday benefit, he said, raised $1.6 million.




Mr. G Aka Goofy Starting Over

Excerpt from - By Kevin Jackson /

(Mar. 17, 2005) Last year, S Curve Records, a subsidiary of EMI Music released Mr. G’s album Issues.  The album came out just as the operations of the label were folding, and being taken over by Sony Music. Instead of moving over to Sony, Mr. G (also known as Goofy) opted not to take up the offer. ‘S Curve dissolved just as the album was released. Right now I am taking my thing back to the streets. Basically its like I am starting all over again’, Mr. G told this column in an interview on the weekend. These days Mr. G is riding local and overseas charts with the track Stepfather from the rhythm of the same name, which he produced.  ‘I have a lot of songs that I have recorded which can make up and album. The streets is definitely feeling the Stepfather song. There is another song that I have which is on the Sleepy Dog rhythm from Steelie and Clevie which the people are feeling right now. The song is Pocket Money’ said Mr. G. Born Chad Simpson, the former St. Catherine High student was a part of the Main Street crew before that camp dissolved in the late 1990’s.  ‘If Danny Browne was still running the Main Street label like back then, I would be working with him right now. I don’t forget loyalty. That is important for me’, Mr. G added.  After scoring a string of hits in the mid 1990’s up to 2003, which includes the likes of I Don’t Give a Damn (also the name of his debut album for VP Records), Fudgie, Buff Bay, Big Man Little Youth (with Red Rat), Brush You Teeth, Normal and Ole Crook, Mr. G is optimistic that with a good song, a good rhythm and good production, the hits will continue to come his way. Mr. G’s Stepfather recently peaked at number 11 on the B Mobile/Mega Jamz Dancehall chart. This week the track slips down to number 13 on the Choice FM Top 20 Reggae chart in London.




Busta Rhymes To Executive Produce Raekwon’s Album

Excerpt from - By Remmie Fresh

(Mar. 18, 2005) Busta Rhymes is planning a pair of rap returns – his own and that of rapper Raekwon. The Flipmode leader said he has jumped on to executive produce the Wu Tang Clan member’s upcoming album, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx Part Two.   “As of right now [I’m doing it], absolutely,” he told “We always had a great relationship creatively. It just got to a point where Rae wanted to reach outside of the Wu family to mesh and vibe with other Hip-Hop n***as that he respects. And with the Rza’s blessing, I was able to contribute what I thought would be great for Rae. I’m a big Rae fan. The Cuban Linx album is one of the best albums put together ever.” The pair collaborated on Busta’s Anarchy LP on a song called “The Heist.”   As a sequel to Rae’s 1995 classic Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, he said that it is imperative that the Wu founder has a role in the opus.   “I didn’t want to be involved with it without Rza’s blessing, because it can’t happen with our Rza’s involvement. All I’m trying to do is re-establish that sound [from Only Built 4 Cuban Linx].”   Busta said that, through the course of putting his own album together, he’s been offered tracks that were more conducive to Raekwon’s style and he passed them along.   In the meantime, he said Rae’s classics have kept him motivated in a Hip-Hip era that’s not reflective of his past. “I keep certain classics around me for inspiration when I feel I ain’t getting it from what n***as are putting out right now.”   The Long Island representative is also prepping his own album called The Big Bang, his debut on Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Records and he said that the organization is where his creative heart lies.   “None of the labels that I’ve been on prior to Aftermath have been able to nourish or support the music that I’m able to make now,” Busta said.   Finally, he revealed that he would be party to Dr. Dre’s anticipated album, Detox. None of the three albums have a firm release date.




Donnie McClurkin Announces Retirement

Excerpt from

(Mar. 22, 2005) *Gospel veteran Donnie McClurkin, who says he never intended to be in the music business for the long haul, has announced he will retire from the industry after the release of his final album for Verity Records on April 5, reports   "I'm on my way out," McClurkin tells the Web site. "2006 should be the end of me, by 2007, I should be history." Upon release of the album, a two-disc set entitled "Psalms, Hymns & Spiritual Songs," McClurkin says he’ll turn full attention to his Perfected Faith Church in Freeport, N.Y., the place of worship he founded four years ago.    “I have to pastor the church that I'm pasturing,” he says. “That's my focus now. I want to concentrate on building people and going further than most people think to go in church. I'm interested in people who are on the street, that are disenchanted with church and devising ways of reaching them. God's allowed me to use my notoriety so far as a platform, but now I have to learn how to expand it from here." McClurkin says he’s not abandoning singing altogether.  "I'm retiring from the whole industry, but not from singing," he says. "I'm retiring from the commerciality of it, but I'll still be at church singing up a storm and recording my church choir's album." "Psalms, Hymns & Spiritual Songs" was recorded last June at the Rock Church in Virginia Beach, Va.  Meanwhile, the biography "From Darkness to Light: The Donnie McClurkin Story" was released last fall on DVD and is airing this month on BET. A performance DVD of "Psalms, Hymns & Spiritual Songs" is due May 24. McClurkin, who appeared on the big screen as a pastor in "Diary of a Mad Black Woman," has been busy filming the movie "The Gospel" in Atlanta. This summer, he'll appear in "Hopeville," a 20th Century Fox comedy co-starring Kirk Franklin.




N.E.R.D S.P.L.I.T.S. U.P.: Pharrell, Chad and Shay had issues with Virgin Records

Excerpt from

(Mar. 22, 2005) *Fed up with the suits at their label Virgin Records, Pharrell Williams has announced that his group N.E.R.D. – featuring Shay and his Neptunes production partner Chad Hugo – has disbanded. “N.E.R.D. is dead,” Williams said, according to World Entertainment News Network. “I don't agree with the management at Virgin Records so we're done. Me and Chad still do what we do in the studio, Shay is still our best friend, you know, perhaps we'll do some music for our fans and leak it to the internet or something, who knows?” N.E.R.D. dropped their first album “In Search Of...”  in 2001 and followed it up with 2004's “Fly Or Die.” But something happened during the recording of that last album to sour the trio on Virgin.   "I've been very quiet about it for the last two years,” Williams said. “I'm not here to slander or throw dirt, I'm just not happy so therefore N.E.R.D. is expired."





Tuesday, March 22, 2005

C-Murder, Truest **** I Ever Said, Koch
Curtis Mayfield, Move on Up [Prism], Prism
Fat Joe, Things of That Nature, Atlantic
Gil Scott-Heron, Greatest Hits Live: Collectors Series, Compendia
James Brown & Friends, 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection:, Polydor
Kem, Album II, Motown
Lou Rawls, Lou Rawls, Simply the Best
Mariah Carey, Emancipation of Mimi, Island
New Edition, 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection:, Geffen
Queen Latifah, 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection:, Motown
Santana, Guitar Legend [United Multi Consign], United Multi Consign
Stevie Wonder, 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection:, Motown
The Four Tops, 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection:, Motown
Tweet, It's Me Again, Elektra

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Brandy, Best of Brandy, Rhino
Bushwick Bill, Gutta Mixx, Lightyear
Faith Evans, First Lady, Capitol
Will Smith, Lost and Found, Interscope







ReelWorld Film Festival Celebrates its 5th Year Anniversary

Source:  ReelWorld Film Festival

This spring, more than 10,000 people will honour excellence and diversity on the big screen at the 5th anniversary of ReelWorld Film Festival, founded by actress, director, producer Tonya Lee Williams. It’s hard to believe that the Festival is already five years old,” says Tonya, “We’ve seen so many changes in the entertainment industry over those years, especially in Canada. Diversity is the watchword of the moment.”  Opening film The Salon (sponsored by Warner Brothers) is a sassy, heart-warming tale from Barbershop writer / producer Mark Brown, and stars Vivica Fox. The closing night film is director Mahesh Dattani’s South Asian epic Morning Raga (sponsored by Universal Studios Canada), starring legendary Bollywood Star Shabana Azmi. The screening (sponsored by Universal Studios) includes the 2005 Awards Ceremony. Both screenings take place at the Famous Players Paramount with a Gala Party following at the Metro Night Club (55 John St.).  This year, controversy and acclaim abound in the feature films. Raoul Peck’s Sometimes in April is about the 1990s genocide in Rwanda; Award-winning Green Hat shatters sexual taboos in China; director James Hou’s Masters of the Pillow, profiles American Professor Darrell Hamamoto’s first Asian-American porn. Metallic Blues, about two Israeli car dealers opens a myriad of emotions long buried; in Beat the Drum, a young man sets out to a South African city after he’s orphaned; and LisaGay Hamilton’s Beah: A Black Woman Speaks, (actress of famed The Practice), celebrates the life of  actress, poet, political activist Beah Richards.

ReelWorld Film Festival is also proud to announce the best Industry Series to date, which kicks off April 13, at 8:00AM with Toronto Mayor David Miller delivering the opening address on the newly created Toronto Film Board. Next, Tonya Lee Williams leads a discussion with six of Canada’s most accomplished female filmmakers, including Shirley Cheechoo and Carolyn Wong reminiscing about their experiences during the first five years of ReelWorld and how festival like ReelWorld have helped their careers. Deepa Mehta, Oscar Award-nominee Hubert Davis, Hotel Rwanda producer Martin Katz, and Siu Ta (This Is Wonderland) and other big names will also be on-hand.  For the family, ReelWorld offers the Toronto premiere of Bryon E. Carson’s The Golden Blaze with Blair Underwood and Sanai Latham, produced by Canadian Michael Jenkinson of Undercover Brother fame. There’s also our Music Video program featuring the Juno-nominated (Video of the Year) The Reason by The Weakerthans, and Beginning (Anything You Want To Do) from the Waking Eyes (nominated for a 2005 Juno for New Group of the Year).  ReelWorld Film Festival is Canada’s premiere non-profit film festival dedicated to nurturing, promoting and celebrating the full spectrum of culturally and racially diverse film and video. For the past five years, the Festival and Foundation have been instrumental in helping filmmakers of colour achieve success in the entertainment industry.    ReelWorld Film Festival would like to thank Citytv, Dante Entertainment Group, Global Television, the National Film Board of Canada, STAR! The Channel, Universal Studios, Wallace Studios and Warner Home Video for all their support.




Life After Sideways For Sandra Oh

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Rob Salem

(Mar. 21, 2005) Oh, what a career ... initially, here in Canada, winning the role of Evelyn Lau over a thousand other actresses, followed by two stand-out, Genie-honoured performances, for Mina Shum in Double Happiness, and for (and opposite) Don McKellar in Last Night. And then it was off to the States, to make her mark in one of the original cable comedies, Arli$$. And then back onto the big screen, from the pregnant lesbian pal in Under The Tuscan Sun to a similarly stellar support role in then-husband Alexander Payne's Oscar-winning indie comedy, Sideways ...The relationship, alas, did not survive that shared triumph — within hours of their final public appearance together, making the round of the Oscar after-parties, the couple announced an amicable separation after five years together. But if Sandra Oh is hurting, you wouldn't know it to talk to her. Either that, or she's an even better actress than we thought. It’s hard to know for sure — no less than three levels of over-protective publicists have called ahead to pre-emptively prohibit any potentially "personal" questions. Fair enough. There are lots of other things to talk about. Like the debut of Grey's Anatomy, a terrific new, character-driven medical drama, on ABC and CTV this Sunday at 10."Drama" is perhaps an overstatement — there are as many funny as there are moving or tragic moments in Grey's Anatomy, which chronicles the personal and professional crises of five young surgical residents struggling through their first year at the prestigious (and fictitious) Seattle Grace Hospital.  Oh is ideally cast as Christina Yang, the most driven, ambitious and cynical of the group. Also somewhat surprisingly cast — the role, as written, was originally intended for "a tiny, blonde woman."  "One of the reasons I was so interested in playing her," the 34-year-old Ottawa-born actress says, "is because I don't think I'm like her at all. Not that I'm saying I'm not ambitious or driven ...

"But then, she doesn't see herself as particularly cynical, either — much as others may. "It's probably because I've had a lot of roles where the character is dry or sarcastic or witty or whatever ... Rita (in Arli$$) was not dry, necessarily, but she was kind of snappy and sarcastic. “The thing I like about Christina is that she has no sense of humour. That makes her funny, ultimately. And she has absolutely no instinct for other people's feelings ... which I think is a really interesting, really huge flaw. She seems to be very, very skilled at so many things, but then she has this giant hole ... this is a big part of her journey.” As is she of Sandra Oh's. "I've been here almost 10 years now," Oh qualifies. "Ten years here, and before that in our country, just keeping my nose to the grindstone ... I feel that, in my life and career, I've only just started to be able to make choices in the past couple of years. “Timing is everything. And I'm still knocking wood. It's like, if you're banging a door solidly — repeatedly? strategically? — for over 10 years, then it might open a little. I'm not saying all the way, but it might open a little. And I think that has to do with just putting in good work. Consistent. And the time, just the time. And hopefully your number comes up. But again, I need to stress, it's only an opening. Just a crack.” Enough, however, to register on Hollywood radar in a series of small but significant roles in small but significant movies. Though not, she insists, necessarily by choice. “Please, I would love to do a giant blockbuster movie," Oh laughs. "It just hasn't been in the cards for me — yet. But I'm quite honestly fine with that. "And besides," she hastens to add, "the accessibility of television gives it that same kind of impact.” And, on Grey's Anatomy at least, the same kind of challenging and creative work environment. If perhaps a little bloody. “Cow hearts, animal organs ... we go through a lot of pork on this set. But I've got to tell you, I don't mind it at all. I thought that I would be queasy. I thought I'd pass out ..."You can hear the excitement building in her voice. "They took us to see this (real) open-heart surgery, a valve transplant ... you're like literally a foot away from, you know, then actual part ... It's unbelievable. Just really amazing. And either you get really sick, or you get this intense rush ... at least, that's what I got from it.” As do all the show's characters — one of the many running gags is how they'll all crawl over each other to get in on some exciting or dangerous or particularly dicey surgical procedure. “The show keeps getting better and better," she says. "Everyone is getting into the groove of it, the writers to the actors, the actors to each other. On a lot of shows, I think, everyone looks the same, and everyone talks the same. That's not interesting to me. I think that as this show goes on, it thrives more and more on the differences between these five people.” Which also makes the often-gruelling schedule a bit easier to handle. "Having the large ensemble saves your life," Oh admits. "I mean, you actually get days off.” Of course, even though I'm not working today, yesterday we started at 9:30 (a.m.) and I got home at 1:30 (a.m.). So it's still a tough, tough schedule.” But one that still allows time for that thriving big-screen career. "I'm going to New York to shoot a film with Robin Williams and Toni Collette, called The Night Listener," she enthuses. "And after that I'm going to Korea to shoot a movie (Smells Like Butter) that I'm so excited for. That is really cool."




Genies: Hello, who are you?

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Rita Zekas

(Mar. 22, 2005) I have a great idea. How about next year, Genie nominees wear "Hello, my name is" buttons.  Who were all those people?  In the pre show, one woman attached to ma vie en cinémascope (I have no idea who she was and I'm a trained professional) told the interviewer she didn't know anyone there.  Host Andrea Martin wore navy blue, this year's "it" Oscar colour, changing into a rockin' red gown that played up all those hours in the gym. Atta girl!  Jean Lapointe, who was named best supporting actor, clearly had a better time than at the cocktailer, where he said he hated those things because "I'm not very social."  There were some fabulous femmes like best actress nominee Emily Hampshire in navy Thien Le and presenters Lisa Marcos in a honk-your-horns red dress; Wendy Crewson in Mark Belford; and Sheila McCarthy in black Laundry. Pascale Bussières, who picked up the best actress Genie, was also a winner in a sophisticated black strapless number.  What happened to presenter Sylvie Moreau's hair? Did she bump into Laura Linney's Oscar hairdresser, who has a heavy hand with oil slick.  Best supporting actress nominee Ellen Page was a ringer for early Natalie Portman and presenter Kristin Adams (Childstar) was very sweet in a boho hippie-chick pant suit. She deserves some kind of award for standing there gamely without slapping Alan Thicke during his lame swag-bag shtick. We could have put that Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to better use.

Comic Kenny Robinson said he was wearing something his wife picked up in Detroit. Isn't he lucky that's the only thing she picked up in Detroit.  Star!'s Larysa Harapyn may have been decked out with half a million bucks worth of diamonds, but presenter Alberta Watson, wonderful in a shiny taupe Brian Bailey, had the best accessory: cutie pie Brendan Fehr, supporting actor nominee. And how yummy was best actor winner Roy Dupuis in his black leathers?  Presenter Carol Kane looked very Madame Butterfly meets Gone With the Wind in a costume from Wicked while Deborah Kara Unger was uncharacteristically demure with a lacy insert in her décolletage.  The Genies are trying to emulate the Golden Globes and be more laid back. Next year they should free-pour the champers.




Who Won

Here is a complete list of winners for the 2005 Genie awards. Also, see critic Peter Howell's story:

Picture: Les Triplettes de Belleville, Paul Cadieux
Leading Actress: Pascale Bussières, Ma vie en cinémascope
Leading Actor: Roy Dupuis, Mémoires affectives / Looking for Alexander
Supporting Actress: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Childstar
Supporting Actor: Jean Lapointe, Le Dernier Tunnel / The Last Tunnel
Director: Francis Leclerc, Mémoires affectives / Looking for Alexander
Original Screenplay: Francis Leclerc, Marcel Beaulieu, Mémoires affectives / Looking for Alexander
Adapted Screenplay: Luc Dionne, Sylvain Guy, Monica la mitraille / Machine Gun Molly
Cinematography: Paul Sarossy, Head in the Clouds
Editing: Dominique Fortin, Head in the Clouds
Music — Original Score: Terry Frewer, Head in the Clouds
Music — Original Song: Ron Proulx, Jacob Tierney, Twist, "Pantaloon in Black"
Art Direction/Production Design: Jean-Baptiste Tard, Nouvelle-France
Costume Design: Mario Davignon, Head in the Clouds
Overall Sound: Dominique Chartrand, Gavin Fernandes, Pierre Paquet, Le Dernier Tunnel / The Last Tunnel
Sound Editing: Craig Henighan, Steve Baine, Stephen Barden, Tony Lewis, Jill Purdy, Nathan Robitaille, Resident Evil: Apocalypse
Best Documentary: The Corporation, Mark Achbar, Jennifer Abbott, Bart Simpson
Live Action Short Drama: Capacité 11 personnes, Gaël d'Ynglemare, Yves Fortin
Animated Short: Ryan, Chris Landreth, Steven Hoban, Marcy Page, Mark Smith
Claude Jutra Award: Daniel Roby, La Peau Blanche
Golden Reel Award: Resident Evil: Apocalypse, Paul W.S. Anderson, Jeremy Bolt, Don Carmody




Quebec Films Rule Genies

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Peter Howell, Movie Critic

(Mar. 22, 2005) A two-year-old cartoon about the Tour de France bicycle race made by a French filmmaker has been named Canada's top movie of 2004.  Les Triplettes de Belleville (The Triplets of Belleville) by France's Sylvain Chomet, who made the film in Quebec but currently resides in Scotland, was named best film last night at the Genie Awards, the annual celebration of Canadian cinema.  It was the first animated feature in the Genies' 25-year history to win the top prize, and something of a surprise winner, but it fit right into a night dominated by francophone films.  Triplets — originally released in 2003 and nominated for two Oscars last year — had just one other Genie nomination, for original score. That musical award went to the World War II drama Head in the Clouds, which also took the prizes for cinematography, editing and costume design.  The awards were handed out at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in a show emceed by U.S.-born comic actress Andrea Martin of SCTV fame, who took a break from her current Broadway role in Fiddler on the Roof to attend. She seemed to have trouble warming to her audience and vice-versa — was the Teleprompter really that big a problem? — but she got off one of the best lines of the evening by chastising Canadians for supporting big Hollywood films while ignoring quality Canadian ones.  "You didn't see Mémoires affectives but you spent $13.50 to see Hitch?"  Great gag, except most of us never had a chance to see Mémoires affectives (Looking for Alexander) or several other nominated Quebec films, because they weren't released in English Canada. And there was no single Canadian film last year in either official language to match last year's big winner, Denys Arcand's The Barbarian Invasions, which also won an Oscar.  Citytv and its CHUM affiliates broadcast last night's show nationally, but it felt like a replay of Quebec's Jutra Awards from last month. Many Jutra winners, including best actor Roy Dupuis and best actress Pascale Bussières, also won the Genie in the same category.  At least a broad swath of Canadians have seen The Triplets of Belleville, along with the rest of the world, although there was no clear reason given why it qualified as a 2004 film for Genies consideration. There also was no apparent effort made by filmmaker Chomet to attend. Instead, an employee of his distribution company nervously accepted the best picture prize.  Triplets has earned $8.5 million since it debuted at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2003, more than double the combined box office of the three major francophone nominees at the Genies: Le Dernier Tunnel (The Last Tunnel), Mémoires affectives and Ma vie en cinemascope, which have only been released in Quebec.

The bank-heist docudrama Le Dernier Tunnel led all challengers with eight nominations, but cashed in just two of them: Jean Lapointe for best supporting actor and Dominique Chartrand, Gavin Fernandes and Pierre Paquet for achievement in overall sound. Lapointe, incidentally, is also a federal Liberal senator.  At least Le Dernier Tunnel won two Genies. The two anglophone nominees for best picture, Being Julia and Love, Sex and Eating the Bones, were both blanked in the awards count.  The memory-loss drama Mémoires affectives was the most successful French-language film in strict numerical terms, winning three Genies: Dupuis for best actor, Francis Leclerc for best director and Leclerc and Marcel Beaulieu for best original screenplay.  The two female prizes for acting both went to single-win films: the popular Bussières as best actress for Ma vie en cinémascope, a biopic of Quebec chanteuse Alys Robi, and U.S. star Jennifer Jason Leigh as best supporting actress for her overbearing mother character in Childstar.  Leigh was also a no-show last night. She dispatched Childstar director and co-star Don McKellar to read a letter of thanks on her behalf: "I wish I was there to say how much I love making movies in Canada, because I do."  The adapted screenplay award went to yet another Quebec film: Monica la mitraille (Machine Gun Molly), written by Luc Dionne and Sylvain Guy.  Best documentary went to The Corporation, co-directed by Mark Achbar, Jennifer Abbott and Bart Simpson, which had the night's most ironic thank-you speech. The movie is all about the evils of capitalist structures, yet Achbar used his few seconds of TV time to make a sales pitch for next week's DVD release.  Backstage, he and Abbott talked about how successful their film has been at the box office — it was second only to Resident Evil: Apocalypse as the top Canuck money earner.  Oddly for an event dominated by Quebec cinema, the most Genies given to a single film last night went to the English-language weeper Head in the Clouds, filmed partly in Montreal and starring Charlize Theron and her boyfriend Stuart Townsend. It tanked at the box office but won four craft Genies.

One Oscar winner was amongst the Genie-blessed. Former Torontonian Chris Landreth received the prize for best animated short for Ryan, his innovative study of Ryan Larkin, the one-time NFB animator turned addict and street beggar. Comparing his Genie backstage to the Oscar he won in February, Landreth patriotically commented: "It feels more like a familiar contour here."  Montreal's Daniel Roby was the winner of the Claude Jutra Award for his first feature film La peau blanche (White Skin), a new take on the vampire legend.  Going strictly by dollars earned, the top Canadian film of 2004 was the zombie nightmare Resident Evil: Apocalypse, which took in nearly $51 million (U.S.) in North America and thereby won the Genies' annual Golden Reel Award. It was directed by a Chilean and starred Ukraine-born actress Milla Jovovich, but it was filmed in Toronto — and featured many Canadians as zombies.




Canadian Films Take Some Direction: Lose The Wimps, Lighten Up, Give Top Actors Some Clout

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Rita Zekas

(Mar. 20, 2005) How can we get more people to watch The Genies? We need to get more people to watch Canadian films.  And to do that, we have to make them more watchable.  "We don't make action dramas," says David Hyde, director of choke, up for a Genie for best live action short drama. Hyde suggests we "lose the wimpy characters with their shirtsleeves too short" who seem to populate our films.  "You have to understand your box office," he says. "The films don't have to be doom and gloom. They can be subversive and quirky and fun."  And we have to make sure Canadian films get into theatres. A two-week run at the Carlton is not enough. Canadian film distribution is "borderline incompetent," says an industry insider.  "Nobody sees Canadian movies — it's a distribution thing," agrees Gordon Pinsent. "Jack Valenti came up here to talk about distribution. He said, `If you folks don't do it, we will.' And if we don't do something about it, watch them take over our business. If our individual producers had begun investing in our people way back when, we could have had box office."  We need a system to make the actors the stars, not the producers or directors. We need to create stars and pay them what they are worth. We need to think bigger.  "If the actors demand their worth, it will cost the producers money," says a Toronto talent agent. "But Canadian producers 1) don't have the money or 2) if they have it, they don't want to take it out of their own pockets. In Canada, we ask `How much is it going to cost me?' In the U.S., it's `How much am I going to make?'  "And I find American casting agents way more open than Canadian casting agents. They take chances. They are creative. Here, they will bring in someone just to get the job done. Ninety per cent of them have lost all creativity. It's `Here are five actors, now get out.'"  We need to promote our stars, adds Gayle Abrams of OAZ talent agency.  "We have star talent, the shame of it is that we just don't have the consumer awareness, committed media support and acceptance of the star system in Anglo Canada. The Genie Awards do contribute to raising the profile of Canadian talent by ironically allowing them freer access to work outside of the country — such as in the U.S.A — because what the Genies represent is celebrated, accepted and understood far more there than here."  And we need to stop being so darned modest.




Ray Biopic Wins Four NAACP Image Awards

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail

(Mar. 20, 2005) Los Angeles — The biopic Ray, about the life of legendary singer Ray Charles won four NAACP Image Awards, including an outstanding-actor trophy that added to its star Jamie Foxx's armful of honours. Ray was nominated for a leading seven awards, including outstanding motion picture and outstanding actor in a motion picture for Foxx, who received the best-actor Oscar at last month's Academy Awards. Foxx exchanged long embraces Saturday night with presenters Sidney Poitier and Diahann Carroll as he accepted his National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) trophy. The 36th annual Image Awards, which honour films, television, literature and music by and about people of colour, were handed out at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. The ceremony, hosted by actor Chris Tucker, was scheduled to air Friday on Fox. "This has been an absolute wonderful ride," said Foxx, who also won a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award for his portrayal of the music legend.

It was the second year in a row that Ray Charles loomed large at the Image Awards. He was inducted into the NAACP Hall of Fame in 2004, three months before his death at 73. Singer-songwriter Alicia Keys also was a multiple winner, taking home a pair of trophies for outstanding song and music video for If I Ain't Got You. Winners were chosen by members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Other honours for Ray included: Kerry Washington, outstanding actress in a motion picture, and Regina King, outstanding supporting actress in a motion picture. In her acceptance speech, Washington said the country needs the NAACP's activism more than ever. Speaking at a ceremony that, unlike most other awards shows, eagerly blends politics and entertainment, she warned that the rights of people of colour, women and the poor are "in danger of being stripped" away. Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman won the Image Award for supporting actor in his role in the film Million Dollar Baby. Freeman and Foxx made Oscar history earlier this year. For only the second time in the ceremony's 77 years, blacks earned two of the four acting awards. Denzel Washington and Halle Berry won in 2002.

Kanye West was named outstanding new artist for his album, College Dropout, while Grammy-winner Usher was honoured as outstanding male artist. American Idol winner Fantasia was named outstanding female artist. West was humble in his acceptance speech. "I made some mistakes and I learned from those mistakes," he told the audience, characterizing the past year as "a trip." In the new category of outstanding independent or foreign film, the award went to Bishop T.D. Jakes' drama about abuse, Woman Thou Art Loosed. Jakes' novel, from which the movie was adapted, also was named best literary work, fiction. U.S. Senator Barack Obama received the Chairman's Award, while the Vanguard Award went to pop star Prince. Talk show host and entrepreneur Oprah Winfrey also was inducted into the NAACP Hall of Fame. "There is an element of show business to politics," Mr. Obama said. "But I think it's important to remind ourselves that what's at stake in our politics is more than just image." Serious problems exist, he said, including a lack of health care for all families, children who are unable to read and a lack of attention to the African continent.




Foxx, Freeman Repeat Their Oscar Award Showing

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail

(Mar. 21, 2005) Los Angeles -- The biopic Ray about the life of legendary singer Ray Charles won four NAACP Image Awards, including an outstanding-actor trophy that added to its star Jamie Foxx's armful of honours. Foxx received the best-actor Oscar at last month's Academy Awards. Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman won the Image Award for supporting actor in his role in Million Dollar Baby. Freeman and Foxx made Oscar history earlier this year. For only the second time in the ceremony's 77 years, African-Americans earned two of the four acting awards. Winners were chosen by members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the oldest and largest civil rights organization in the U.S. AP




Latifah, Alba On Leading Lady Racism

Excerpt from

(Mar. 21, 2005) *Queen Latifah has joined the discussion sparked by the now infamous March 14 “Newsweek” article that examines the Hollywood practice of casting black leading men opposite Latina love interests - because all-black couples are harder to market. During interviews Sunday for her forthcoming film “Beauty Shop,” which stars African actor Djimon Hounsou as her boo, Latifah gave us her take on the issue. “My take is America’s racist,” she says with authority. “That’s pure racism, and capitalism. It’s like, ‘How can we make the most money? Okay, well, we’re gonna pair you up with this person so you can bring that audience, and you can bring this audience’, but, it’s a shame. I hate the idea that you can’t have a black couple - which you can, it’s just the question of how much money you want to make and how bankable you think it is.” As previously reported, the “Newsweek” article mentions Will Smith’s “Hitch” co-star Eva Mendes, who called the practice “lame” and wished “the mentality wasn’t so closed.”  Self-described black-Latina actress Zoe Saldana was also mentioned in the article for her pairing with Nick Cannon in “Drumline”; and Mexican actress Jessica Alba was noted for her role as Mekhi Phifer’s object of desire in “Honey.” Alba, who next stars as a blonde stripper in Robert Rodriguez’s stylized “Sin City,” says she’s just happy to have reached a level in Hollywood where roles stereotypical to Latinas are not the only scripts to be sent her way. “I only used to get breakdowns for Maria, the janitor’s daughter who was messing around with the white kid,” Alba told us Saturday. On the issue of her race being a factor in casting, she says: “I never think about it until people make me think about it. And this industry definitely made me think about me being a Latin girl. It was such a classist, bizarre thing because I grew up in the United States, my mother’s white, my father’s Mexican and I came out how I did and they always want to pigeonhole you.”

The 23-year-old rising star said her thoughts about race changed after she was cast as the genetically-enhanced star of James Cameron’s TV series “Dark Angel” at age 18. “Jim basically said, ‘You’re the future of the race and that’s basically what ‘Dark Angel’ was, where you’re just a mixture, and we’re not going to talk about it.  It’s very liberating working with people that aren’t going to pigeonhole you as the janitor’s daughter.” Meanwhile, plum romantic lead roles will remain out of reach for black actresses as long as studios continue its belief that audiences will not to pay to see a black woman express physical affection for a black man on the big screen. “Do you think you alienate a certain audience because you show that? I don’t think you do,” says Latifah. “I think people use that as an excuse. I think people use that as a crutch. There’s a whole bunch more movies with black couples in it. Some of the major films have had a black guy teamed up with a Latina woman, or a white girl, or me and the white guy. I mean that whole thing is getting kind of old, too. It’s like I enjoy that, but I can also do this person.” Will Hollywood’s attitude ever change? “It’s got to come from us. It’s got to come from the studios. It’s got to come from the production companies,” says Latifah. “It’s not going to be something that one person can change. It’s got to be a conscious effort not to do that, to show different images and mix it up. I mean, for crying out loud, I done had several Puerto Rican boyfriends, so it’s not unrealistic, but at the same time it’s all about choices. It’s all about having options and seeing different flavours, because that’s really what life is like. Everybody is not the same, we don’t do the same things over and over, we do mix it up sometimes and it would be nice to see that.” “Beauty Shop” opens March 30; “Sin City” opens April 1.




The Combination Of Cinema And Africa Is Hollywood’s Latest Fascination

Excerpt from - By Marie Moore /

(Mar. 17, 2005) Chiwetel Ejiofor, a British actor of Nigerian descent, stars in “Melinda and Melinda.” A classic pianist who also plays jazz, Ellis (Ejiofor) has both Melinda (Radha Mitchell) and Laurel (Chloe Sevigny) dancing to “the beat” of his drum. As a musician in New York, Ejiofor says his research consisted of going clubs up in Harlem. In “Melinda and Melinda” almost every relationship is doomed somewhat. So is love doomed, and if not, what are the secrets to making a relationship work? Ejiofor pauses, and then responds. “Yeah, I suppose that all the relationships have problems in the movie, which is sort of true of life.  And the characters find their own ways of resolving those issues.  I don’t think I have, personally, any massive insight [laughs] into what makes relationships work.  But certainly it’s good to see, and interesting to see, somebody sort of discussing the different problems and issues and people involved, and characters involved, in relationships and how strange and kind of crazy they can be.  And how much we sort of generally tend to need them so much.” When asked about the meaning of Chiwetel, he tells The Film Strip it means God brings. True to form, God has brought quite a bit of success to Ejiofor since he played the Nigerian doctor, Okwe, in “Dirty Pretty Things.” He made his feature film debut in Steven Spielberg’s “Amistad.” He has five more films scheduled for this year including “Four Brothers,” directed by John Singleton. He explains it as a “revenge thriller with Mark Wahlberg and Tyrese…I think he’s [John] a terrific filmmaker.” Of his character, Ejiofor says, he’s “a very nasty chap. [Laughs]” Director Woody Allen, has been taken to task for the lack of Blacks in his films. The role of Ellis no accident, he says: “I always saw him as a black character, yes. They wanted to fix this woman (Melinda) up and they fixed her up with this stiff. They go to this party and the guy at the piano is kind of gorgeous and is full of feeling. So in the comedy story, I felt I should also use a Black actor to match with that. And I had always felt that it would be Chiwetel as soon as I saw ‘Dirty Pretty Things.' I thought, 'this guy is great. He's gorgeous and he can act. Great.' And he was available. I was very lucky…”

Sam Jackson says the actors in “In My Country“ added authenticity to the film. The African actors became so emotional about the subject matter, they would burst out in chants and song, “We were like, ‘oh my God,’ you know. It was incredible,” Jackson revealed. “It was just incredible to be there, and feel the energy of a place that’s kind of being reborn; especially a place like Cape Town.  Johannesburg has another kind of energy. Johannesburg's like New York on crack.  Jackson took on the “In My Country” project for a number of reasons:  “Jeez, the fact that I kind of knew the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was going on, and there were no real new stories about it.  And I had friends in South Africa. When I was in college I had friends who had been exiled because of apartheid, and what they'd done.  “I also thought it would be interesting for an audience to find out what happened when Mr. [Nelson] Mandela got out of prison, and why there wasn't this huge civil war that everybody expected. And to find out about the, you know, process of healing that's going on in South Africa.” Jackson told The Film Strip what he wanted audiences to walk away with: “You know, hopefully, that principle of Ubuntu (the African principle which strives to create harmony amongst all people by absolving transgressions, rather than seeking retribution) will kind of strike people, and they would get it, that what affects me, affects you.  When you look at the state of the world, that's pretty much what's going on, you know. “We’re in this war with Iraq, and that affects me, it affects you, it affects the Iraqi people, and it affects a whole lot of people it's a ripple effect that goes out. So the more we start to realize that there are principles out there, that embody your understanding, forgiveness, and kind of clean slate and starting over, it’s a good thing. If only two or three people get it, and they start to use it in their daily lives in some kind of way, it's a good thing.  At least they the information is out there and if people who see it say to others, ‘you ought to see this movie, it's thought provoking, and it has something that maybe they you’re not aware,’ it can only add to the understanding.” Jackson not only stars as the apprehensive Washington Post journalist sent to South Africa to cover the TRC hearings. Is he surprised at the success of “Coach Carter”? Of Course not, he says. “I actually think that when you give people something that speaks to a specific value system, that they do respond,” he states, “especially when  it's presented in a way that they can share it with their kids and enjoy it. I had a lot of people tell me, ‘I watched this movie with my kids, and we talked about the movie and they promised to do better in school, and that they got the message. We enjoyed it together. They want to go back and see it again, take some other kids.’” Also, they said that the film didn't beat the kids over the head with the message that they've been trying to get to them.  And that hopefully they will hold on to that, and keep those promises.  But at least they do have the information now, that being a sports star is not the end all and be all for whom you can be. And parents are really glad about that.  And in fact, it still opened very well last weekend in the UK So, the basketball metaphor is there, but people are replacing it with soccer and cricket and whatever.” African American culture has indeed had an impact on the overseas entertainment market. When the youngest star of “Millions,” Alex Etel, was asked whom he would like to star with in his next film, he said Will Smith and Vin Diesel. His favourite artist is Snoop Dogg. His co-star, Lewis McGibbon, who plays his brother in the film, counts Will Smith among his favourite actors also.

“Millions,” which takes place in England, tells the story of a seven-year-old, Damian, and his nine-year-old brother, Anthony, who are faced with a money dilemma. A suitcase of money virtually falls out of the sky at Damian’s feet. He is determined to build a well in Africa with the money although some of the other characters have other designs on it. Director Danny Boyle (“28 Days Later,” “Trainspotting”), when asked to explain the film’s raison d’etre, told The FilmStrip he set out to make a film about moral values this time around:  “The wells very much came out of the idea to see whether an act of generosity was possible in the modern. It was very interesting when the tsunami happened to see that instinctive response, that impulse of generosity, and how cynicism began to build. Everybody starts to say is the money going to the right place, are they ripping people off and we began to build all those little barriers. “The Africa thing is probably the most pure example of it really; that everybody on this planet has a right to clean water, free access to clean water. And one of the big issues at the moment, although this is not the kind of film to go into it, is that they are privatizing water in Africa. There are a lot of private companies going in and they are gonna provide water to places that don't have water, but they're gonna charge…That feels, to me, to be inhuman. It’s like the air you breathe. You should be provided with water. You shouldn’t abuse the planet. These people should all have free access to the water “So in the film, it was just a human gesture, a simple gesture but an important victory that Damian had. What’s left of the money he gets to spends it as he thinks it should've been spent from the beginning and everybody has to agree.”


Black Film Month

Excerpt from

(Mar. 21, 2005) *In May, film production and distribution company UrbanWorks Entertainment will introduce Black Film Month, to help celebrate the diversity of black cinema and honour the filmmakers and actors who are overlooked in the mainstream arena. The effort will include wide-ranging internet marketing, print and retail campaigns specifically developed to heighten awareness of black films and African-Americans in cinema. "African-Americans have made invaluable contributions to the motion picture industry, both in front of and behind the camera," says UrbanWorks' President, Jeff Clanagan, "and we have to cultivate an environment where films that speak to the diverse tastes of the African-American community can continue to be made and flourish."




Art Imitates Life For Jennifer Aniston

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Angela Pacienza

(Mar. 18, 2005) Los Angeles -- Universal Pictures has tapped Jennifer Aniston to star alongside Vince Vaughn in The Break Up. Peyton Reed has come on board to direct the comedy, an original idea by Vaughn that is slated to begin production in early June for a February release. Aniston's other projects include roles in Rumor Has It, Friends With Money and Derailed. Reuters







Actor Bucks Odds As Jake The Rake

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Vinay Menon

(Mar. 17, 2005) Starring in a hit sitcom can be hazardous to one's career.  When the show ends, an actor is often banished to Typecast Purgatory, forever encased in the stainless-steel image of his or her character.  Malcolm Jamal Warner will always be Theo Huxtable to me. Kirk Cameron will never exorcize Mike Seaver. Richard Sanders will always be haunted by his Les Nessman alter ego. And Justine Bateman will never escape the '80s gravitational pull of Mallory Keaton.  Therein lies the danger for John Stamos, an actor still best known as Jesse Katsoplis on Full House, the ABC sitcom that ran for eight treacly seasons starting in 1987.  After vanishing from the cultural radar, Stamos returns to network television, hoping — maybe even praying — to become a notable exception to the cautionary tales that abound in Los Angeles.  Appropriately, his new comedy is titled Jake in Progress (ABC, 8 p.m. tonight). Stamos plays Jake Phillips, a powerful Manhattan publicist, who tends to the crises of his celebrity clients.  Examples:

1. A tough-guy actor is splashed across the New York Post after having a tryst with a woman who is actually a transsexual.

2. A member of "The Three Gaymigos" — a not-so-subtle jab at Queer Eye's Fab Five — comes "out" and declares he's, well, straight.

Helping others awake from PR nightmares is Jake's forte. In his Armani suit, with his coiffed hair and winning grin, he assumes the role of über-strategist, lancing snafus with the aerial of his cellphone.  But the spin doctor can't heal himself: Jake wants to settle down.  In the pilot, which ABC aired Sunday as a "sneak peek" to sneakily pique interest in tonight's official launch, Jake is talking to friend Adrian (Ian Gomez) when a revelation strikes.  "How many vapid, thong-wearing, tantric-sex-loving models with fake tans and butterfly tattoos on the small of their backs can I date?" he asks rhetorically. "It's horrible."  Horrible? Um, Jake, most men would probably describe such a predicament with a different word. "Incredible" or "unbelievable" comes to mind. But we'll go with your adjective.  Jake is trying to end years of chronic womanizing. He's so keen to mute his swinging lifestyle he even gets sweaty palms just thinking about it. (Though, in typical PR form, he prefers the term "hyperhidrosis.")  In a sense, the lives of Jake Phillips and John Stamos have some reverse parallels. Stamos recently split from wife Rebecca Romijn and, presumably, is back in Hollywood's dating (cess)pool.  In the pilot, Jake agrees to a blind date with the younger sister of his boss Naomi (Wendie Malick). It quickly degenerates when Jake fails to recognize or remember that he has already slept with the poor thing.

Don't you hate when that happens?  At any rate, the real point of this encounter is to introduce viewers to Patrick (Rick Hoffman), an aspiring David Blaine illusionist, who just happens to be suspended in a Plexiglas box, dangling close to the apartment of Jake's date.  By the second episode, Patrick has attached himself to Jake like a bearded barnacle; the two suddenly seem like childhood friends.  With the Jake, Adrian and Patrick triumvirate, producers have satisfied the Three Male Friends requirement of TV comedy. (See: Seinfeld, Friends, Mind of the Married Man.)  Jake in Progress is good but, so far, not great. It can be weak, but it's never terrible. They should have probably called it Jake in the Middle. Like other New York-based comedies, it's trying to create a fictional universe where situations, neologisms and original phrases become trends in the real world.  Sex and the City gave us "modelizer," "illegal dumping," "frenemies." Seinfeld created "double-dip," "close talker," "mimbo." In the Jake premiere, we heard "double-buzzer," "manwhore," and "Creepy Guy."  Dear writers: We get it. Now dial it down.  The single-camera shooting, with no laugh track, is a pleasant change from recent ABC comedies. The show, however, squanders this "uncanned" quality by getting carried away with a split-screen gimmick.  And it may have been wiser, or more interesting, to let Stamos play a cad, a rogue who embraces his looks and power without apology or regret.  You know, have Stamos morph from the Olsen twins' soft-and-cuddly Uncle Jesse in Full House to Jake Phillips, a hard-and-cold player more likely to seduce Mary-Kate and Ashley.  For now, though, the show seems preoccupied with Jake's efforts to change his ways, forget his past and build a new life.  Hopefully, Jake in Progress will allow Stamos to do the same. He's probably getting hyperhidrosis just thinking about it.




Desperate Housewives Get Red Carpet Treatment

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Angela Pacienza

(Mar. 16, 2005) Toronto — The five ladies from Wisteria Lane have caused a bit of a kafuffle for Juno planners. Because the wildly popular Desperate Housewives draws a huge number of viewers for CTV, the broadcaster plans to cram a red carpet Juno special into breaks during the show.  That means a supersized 90-minute-long episode on Sunday, April 3. CTV has been struggling for a few weeks now to figure out the best way to squeeze the annual music awards show, a red carpet special and Desperate Housewives into a single prime-time night. “We always try to think of the best way to produce the evening,” said Susanne Boyce, who heads programming at CTV. “We want it to be an event for the viewer.” As a result of the 90-minute Housewives, the awards themselves will begin 30 minutes later than usual, and will not be live-to-air anywhere in the country. Desperate Housewives, which averages 2.1 million viewers weekly in Canada, will air from 7 to 8:30 p.m., with the Junos beginning at 8:30 in all time zones except in the Maritimes where the awards will air at 9:30 p.m.

Boyce stressed that the tape delay would not affect the content of any of the shows, which will also contain regular commercials. “What we're doing is putting (the Junos) in a stronger position because you've got Desperate Housewives as your lead-in,” she said.  “It's a better scenario.” The beefed-up Desperate Housewives episode practically guarantees CTV more than two million viewers for the red carpet celebrity fawn-fest — which this year is less than stellar because of the absence of international superstars like Alanis Morissette, Shania Twain or Avril Lavigne (Morissette and Twain aren't nominated; Lavigne will be on tour in Singapore).  Ever since taking over the broadcast rights of the Junos from CBC four years ago, CTV has invested millions into building a Juno brand, which has typically included an hour-long red carpet special. This year's Junos will be hosted by Brent Butt and confirmed attendees include Neil Young, Dan Aykroyd, The Tragically Hip, Keisha Chante, Carolyn Dawn Johnson, k-os, Kalan Porter, Sum 41, Buffy Sainte-Marie and Keith Urban.  Lavigne leads the nominee pack with five nods, followed by Diana Krall with four.







Mamma Mia! To Close After Five Years

Excerpt from The Toronto Star - Richard Ouzounian, Theatre Critic

(Mar. 18, 2005) The Dancing Queen is getting ready for her final night on the town.  Mamma Mia! will play its 2,044th and final Toronto performance on May 22, the fifth anniversary of its opening.  The announcement was made by Mirvish Productions yesterday afternoon and it may have come as a surprise to the cast, but not to industry insiders.  "It's losing money at the moment and it's difficult to tell the future," said producer Judy Craymer on the phone from New York, "but it's been a wonderful ride, so I have no regrets."  Toronto was the first city to host the ABBA songfest after its West End opening in 1999. "I look on it as our first born after London," said Craymer. "That's why we want to go out on a high and not just limp out of town."  When the show opened in May of 2000, Craymer never thought it would last as long as it did.  "We were only planning to be there 26 weeks, but it just took off and when (co-producer) David Mirvish suggested a sit-down company, I remember wondering if we could really make it work."  When the Canadian company, led by Louise Pitre, went on a North American tour, a new cast continued to play to sell-out houses in Toronto.  But the SARS crisis of 2003 damaged even a solid hit like Mamma Mia! and the production moved to Vancouver for several months during the summer. When it returned to Toronto in the fall, it never regained its original level of popularity, although it has played to decent houses almost every week.

During the 2003 slump, Mirvish also announced the closing of The Lion King, only to keep it open an additional five months when the public demanded it.  Craymer was cautious about the same scenario occurring with Mamma Mia! "That all depends on public demand. We'll have to see. The good of the show comes first."  Since its opening, Mamma Mia! has played to 2.8 million people, grossed more than $200 million and been responsible for $1 billion of activity in the city's economy.  Mamma Mia!'s five-year run makes it the second-longest running show in Toronto's theatrical history, surpassed only by 10 years of The Phantom of the Opera (1989-1999).  "We want it to end as a celebration," said Craymer.




In Town For A Cats Reunion Fundraiser, Two Original Cast Members Look Back On The Pioneering

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By SARAH HAMPSON

(Mar. 19, 2005) ''I still have nightmares about Cats,'' laughs Lyne Tremblay, 46. She played Cassandra in the popular musical whose all-Canadian cast celebrated its 20th reunion earlier this week with a benefit concert for the outreach program of Toronto's Metropolitan United Church at the city's Winter Garden Theatre.  "You do?" says her friend and fellow cast member Alexandre Beaulieu, 42, who was Mr. Mistoffelees. "I thought I was the only one! I dream I'm lost and I'm on the subway without my makeup." Both erupt with laughter over their Starbucks coffees. This is the morning after the night before, which included a postshow party that lasted well into the early hours. "Sometimes, I dream that I have only half my tail," Tremblay trembles. "That show went so deep," she says, clutching dramatically at her midsection. "It's so inside your bones." Cats not only had a lasting impact on the people who performed in it. The show was also a great leap forward in Canadian theatre, ushering in the era of highly commercial musicals.

The 1985 production had a budget of nearly $1.5-million, and tickets cost between $40 and $50. In Toronto, the musical played in the Elgin Theatre, then only partly renovated (it was long used as a movie house), and located in the midst of a derelict stretch of Yonge Street. Today, of course, the city is a theatre mecca, albeit one that has suffered some fallout from SARS and a strong dollar. As some measure, consider that this week, Mirvish Productions announced the arrival (in February, 2006) of the much-anticipated musical of The Lord of the Rings. Budget? $27-million. Top ticket price? $125. In the early eighties, Toronto was suffering from stage fright. Ed Mirvish had bought the Royal Alexandra Theatre on King Street in 1962, where he had since put on a variety of run-of-the-mill theatre productions. Only a few of them featured Canadian casts. Hair, in 1970, had Canadian performers; and Godspell, later the same decade, gave a start to many others, including Martin Short. Most shows, however, were touring productions from the United States. Mirvish, in fact, had initially passed on the opportunity to stage Cats, although it would have been natural for him to be its Canadian impresario: He knew Cameron Mackintosh, the London-based producer of Cats, and later, Les Misérables and Miss Saigon, among other blockbuster shows. But Mirvish's Royal Alex was booked up with a popular subscription series, and he didn't want to interrupt his scheduled season, according to John Karastamatis, communications director at Mirvish Productions. Cats was a stray animal. Unlike other shows that dispatched touring productions after a successful run in New York or London, Cats was offering licensing deals to local producers. It was a couple of ambitious Toronto women, Marlene Smith and Tina VanderHeyden, who dared to bring Cats in from the cold.  VanderHeyden, currently director of development at the Canadian Film Centre, was a publicist at the O'Keefe Centre (later renamed the Hummingbird), a venue then, as it is now, for many touring productions. Through her New York contacts, she heard of the Cats licensing deal and approached Smith, who had been a publicist at the Royal Alex for Godspell, and was involved as a producer of cabaret nights at small local theatres such as The Ports on Yonge Street.

With investments from local businessmen, Cats opened with much trepidation. "I remember people talking about how much of a risk it was," says Beaulieu, who took part in the cross-Canada auditions in Montreal. " 'How long will it last?' people would ask. It was a very brave thing to do." It quickly became a success, remaining in Toronto for a year and a half, beating the previous record-breaking run of 52 weeks for Godspell. Cats then toured Canada for the next three and a half years. "We really had something to prove," recalls Tremblay, who manages to look provocatively nimble and feline in jeans, a woolly sweater and bomber jacket. "The ensemble cast worked very well together. There was no jealousy or competition." "We had a huge desire to please," puts in Beaulieu, adding that for many performers, the show was their first big accomplishment. Beaulieu, who is from Val d'Or, Que., had previously worked in small TV series and commercials. Tremblay, who was born in Lac-St-Jean, Que., describes herself, at that time, as a "gypsy," having danced and trained with a number of companies, including Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal. They were both looking for a break. "We proved that Canada had the talent," says Beaulieu. The training schedule was rigorous, they remember. And they were given homework: Observe cats and emulate their behaviour. For most of the show, they were crawling on a slanted stage, which was physically challenging. Beaulieu and Tremblay stayed for only the first year of the show's life. "You couldn't do more than that, I don't think," Tremblay says. "Eight shows a week of that show?" She rolls her eyes. "I ended up with housewife's knees," she laughs. The success of the show had several repercussions, including a major cat fight between VanderHeyden and Smith over the sharing of profits. (It was Smith who was the force behind the reunion concert.) More importantly, Cats opened people's eyes to the potential for similar musicals.

In 1989, Garth Drabinsky was on the scene with Livent. He restored the Pantages Theatre, now the Canon, and staged the long-running The Phantom of the Opera. That same year, Ed Mirvish did interrupt his subscription series to mount Les Misérables at the Royal Alex. And, encouraged by the success of Cats, the Ontario government, owners of the Elgin Theatre, decided to fully restore the venue, which now houses two theatres. The one promise the surprise success of Cats never quite delivered on, however, was lasting stardom for its cast members. But that may have more to do with the vagaries of the business than anything else. "People would always say I was going to make it big now that I was in Cats," says Tremblay with a look of calm forbearance worthy of the haughtiest neighbourhood feline. She did go on to some good gigs, she points out.  Shortly after Cats, there was a production of Cabaret, in which she played Sally Bowles, in Paris for six months. She has also recorded a jazz CD, Break and Enter.  Beaulieu had similar success with the "beautiful passport" of Cats. Performances in a Paris production of Cats, in The Phantom in Toronto and in Les Miz in Montreal are just some of his noteworthy appearances. "You can't think of a show like Cats as making your career for you. That's a vanity way of thinking," says Tremblay, clearly a seasoned performer who has weathered good and bad years in the business. "It's a process. You have to live in the moment, and enjoy where you are and the people you are collaborating with." The theatre scene in Toronto, for singers and dancers at least, is not as rich as it was, they say. Livent is long gone. Touring productions still fill theatres, shutting out local talent. "There's some good in the lack of opportunity out there, in that you have to create opportunity for yourself," observes Beaulieu. "We live a life where one telephone call can change everything," says Tremblay with a shrug of her shoulders.

For the original Canadian cast members of Cats, spread as far as New Zealand, England, South Africa, California and across Canada, that happened about a month ago, when Smith called to ask if they'd come on their own dime to donate their time for a reunion show. More than 95 per cent of the cast said yes. They looked like penguins, not cats, in their tuxedos, singing stiffly at microphones, but that didn't seem to dampen their enthusiasm or that of the crowd, who applauded loudly at the end of almost every song. Cats without its claws was still scratching at memory's door.




Old Vic Shines Spotlight On Canadian Plays

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Elizabeth Renzetti

(Mar. 21, 2005) LONDON -- At the end of a staged reading of Djanet Sears's play The Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God, the audience of London theatre producers rose for a standing ovation. One of them left the rehearsal room at the Old Vic Theatre, saying "that didn't seem like a Canadian play." Those producers got an eye-opening and perhaps stereotype-shattering view of Canadian theatre this past week during the 4-Play Festival, sponsored by the Canadian High Commission and the National Arts Centre. One of the plays, Wajdi Mouawad's Scorched, is a journey through Montreal and war-scarred Lebanon; Michael Healey's Rune Arlidge is set in contemporary cottage country; Sears's play is set in Negro Creek, a 200-year-old community in southwestern Ontario, and Kevin Kerr's Unity (1918) takes place in Saskatchewan at the end of the First World War. "It's a good thing to break any stereotypes around Canadian plays and show a huge range of experience," Kerr says. He allows that there are certain references in his play -- which is set during the influenza epidemic of 1918 -- that might not work for British audiences. At one point, for example, a blind soldier falls off a train platform on the Prairies and says: "It's not as flat as I was told it would be." Says Kerr: “That joke itself might fall flat." The larger issue, though, "is to transmit to the audience's imagination the complete world of the play." Kerr's play is one of the lucky quartet to make the journey to London. Last November, a panel of Canadian theatre professionals was asked to draw up a list of 13 recent plays that would showcase Canadian talent. The 13 plays were then submitted to British dramaturges, who winnowed the list to four.

Those four plays received staged readings -- with actors, but no sets or props -- at the Old Vic last week. The goal is to introduce this work to London's theatrical producers, with the Holy Grail being an actual production of one of the Canadian plays, eventually, in London. On Thursday, seven actors stood in the red-walled Sam Morley rehearsal room at the Old Vic to read Michael Healey's caustic, funny family drama Rune Arlidge. Although the actors had no costumes or props -- and possibly little familiarity with cottage country -- they conveyed the bite of Healey's play, and the audience of a couple of dozen theatre professionals got the jokes, even this one: "Calgary's the kind of place you end up if you're not paying attention." After the reading, the Brits gathered to drink wine and discuss the plays. "It's good to see the ability that Canada has had in the past few years to come out from under the shadow of the U.S.," said Gavin Stride of the Farnham Maltings culture centre. "There's a confidence in Canadian theatre that we've lost a bit," he said. "We've lost our ability to tell a story and Canadian playwrights are good at that. Michael [Healey] is particularly good." Stride pointed to the fact that many successful plays in London's West End are adaptations of films, not original stories. Healey's cottage-country play could transfer to Britain, said Michael Yale of Theatre Metropolis, because "it's really about relationships, isn't it?" Even if the plays don't get produced in England, the experience would still be invaluable, Kerr says. He spent the day rehearsing with the cast of Unity (1918) and was concentrating on this production, not some mythical one in the future. Still, if a mythical one were to materialize, what would be the dream home for his play? Well, he says, thinking big, "the National Theatre would be nice."







Fur No Longer Fashion Faux Pas

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail - By Lorrayne Anthony

(Mar. 17, 2005) Toronto — Designers showing their collections at Fashion Week in Toronto have taken fur from fashion faux pas to a sought after luxury for fall/winter 2005. While there are the occasional decadent pieces such as David Dixon's mink trench coat, most designers are incorporating fur in the details, such as POW by Andy The-Anh's use of fur to create a sensual shawl collar on a blazer. Morales, by Montreal-based designer Renata Morales, puts fur on a wide collar on multi-coloured cloth jackets. Toronto's Shelli Oh uses fur in her Harebell collection in subtle ways: small collars, epaulettes and around the neck like a scarf. Some designers used fur simply as an accessory, as seen with Pierre Jale's fur headband. The Pierre Jale label won the Toray Ultrasuede prize for the most innovative use of the fabric in their fall/winter collection. Cincyn, the Toronto designing duo of Cindy Custodio and Cynthia Florek won the tfi new labels competition. Their collection — rummaging through the closet of Sherlock Holmes and his lover — included fur items such as a raccoon holster-style stranded shrug and a red fox jacket. Some of their other offerings caught the eye of actor Wendy Crewson who was in the crowd. “I was really impressed,” said Crewson, who was in the market for something to wear at the Genie Awards on Monday night. She had her eye on Cincyn's emerald silk bias cut gown with a red fox jacket.

It's no accident that the use of fur is on the increase. “Ten years ago we realized the industry was dying because of controversy,” said Evelyne Neiman, from Saga Furs Montreal. Rather than just dealing with furriers, the fur industry decided to start working with fashion designers so they could start thinking of fur as something to incorporate in their creations. Montreal-based Envers, by Yves Jean Lécasse, used fur to accent designs that are available in Montreal, Boston and Brussels. Lécasse used fur wraps draped loosely over gowns and fur strands on collars adorned with gold jewellery. These details added luxury to designs which seemed to hail from another, more romantic era. “I was transported. It was beautiful,” said fashion consultant Linda Gaylard, who has dressed many famous Canadians for the Genie and the Gemini Awards. “It's perfect for the red carpet.” From relaxed yoga pants — or jimmies — and hoodies, to sexy fitted zipper-front dresses and double V-necks, Jessie May's designs may please just about any woman. In fact that was the Montreal designer's theme. Sashaying down the runway to Chaka Khan's I'm Every Woman, the models — just regular women with curves and legs that don't begin at their armpits — wore colourful activewear that moved right along with them. “I use real girls ... I really design it for every woman. Young and old,” said May, whose collection is available in 102 stores across Canada. Saniya Khan used sashes as a fluid and feminine method of layering. As a scarf around the neck or a shawl over the shoulders or even as a skirt — with a broach on the hip holding everything in place — colourful swaths of rich fabric are her trademark. Jayn Simpson's fall/winter collection was exquisitely elegant: Camel coloured houndstooth suits, with details such as antique brass buttons, silk chiffon corsets with lacing and black silk tweed jackets.

“I'm inspired so much by the past. There was so much character then ... a time when something was left to the imagination,” said Simpson, who has lived in Vancouver and Ottawa and has recently moved to Toronto. Fashion designer, manufacturer and retailer Marilyn Brooks was particularly fond of Simpson's collection as she had a little something to do with it. Simpson had called Brooks for advice some time back and Brooks looked at pictures and discussed pricing with the young designer. “I feel very proud today,” said Brooks, who happened to be wearing one of her own designs.







Better Food, Bigger Muscles!

By Raphael Calzadilla, BA, CPT, ACE, eDiets Chief Fitness Pro

(Mar. 21, 2005) The following is an email I received:  "Raphael, I can't seem to put on muscle no matter how intensely I lift weights. I work out hard and always have mind-blowing workouts, but the muscle just won't come on. What's wrong with my training?"  Can you figure out where this guy is going wrong with his training and his goal to build muscle? I eventually found out that this individual was eating about 1,800 calories per day on a 5'11" frame.  Have the answer to his workout problem?  The nutrition program he designed was also significantly lacking in protein.  Is it getting clearer?

The answer, of course, is that nothing is wrong with his training! His problem is his nutrition. This isn't an uncommon problem or uncommon email. Most people quickly learn the best methods for training (especially if they stay away from the muscle magazine workouts), but few know how many calories to consume or how much protein, carbohydrates and fats to eat in order to build muscle.  Of all factors related to putting on muscle, such as workouts, supplements, rest, lack of stress and nutrition, I rank nutrition as number one. I'm not suggesting that the other factors are insignificant. They are all vital. However, based on my experience, nutrition rules!  When I was a beginning weight trainer, I wanted simple answers and a straightforward approach. However, I just couldn’t find one. Everyone told me something different about how to eat in order to put on muscle. I remember the answers, "just eat more," "take in more protein," and "don’t eat junk food." All correct answers, but they told me very little.  I’m going to save you time searching for the right formula by providing a concrete plan to put on muscle. A system that works! Enough of my babble, the following is a step-by-step system to gain muscle from a nutrition standpoint.

1. DETERMINING CALORIES -- This formula is based on putting on muscle, not strictly body fat loss.


A very active male seeking weight (muscle) gain = ideal body weight x 17

A moderately active male seeking weight (muscle) gain = ideal body weight x 16

Inactive male beginning a weight (muscle) gain exercise program = ideal bodyweight x 15


A very active female seeking weight (muscle) gain = ideal body weight x 15

A moderately active female seeking weight (muscle) gain = ideal body weight x 13

Inactive female beginning a weight (muscle) gain exercise program = ideal bodyweight x 12


A moderately active male currently weighing 160 pounds wants to put on muscle. His goal is to add five pounds of muscle to his frame. Here is the formula: 165 (ideal body weight) x 16 (moderately active male) = 2,640 calories. Please keep it realistic! If you're 160 pounds and you place 250 pounds into the formula as your ideal weight, you’ll just get fat!


Now that we know how to determine calories, let's take a look at how to calculate ratios of protein, carbohydrates and fats. If you’re looking to put on muscle, a ratio of 55 percent carbohydrates, 30 percent protein and 15 percent fat is an excellent balance.

The 55 percent carbohydrates (keep refined carbohydrates to a minimum) will provide ample energy for intense workouts, and the 30 percent protein will provide the necessary building blocks for muscle. Also, the 15 percent fat will help with strength levels. Most people interested in building muscle will actually lose strength if dietary fat is reduced too low.

Below is an example using our imaginary male, who will be consuming 2,640 calories.

Fifty-five percent of 2,640 calories = 1,452 calories from carbohydrates

Thirty percent of 2,640 calories = 792 calories from protein, 15 percent of 2,640 calories = 396 calories

There are metabolic differences between various individuals, so sometimes these ratios need to be slightly skewed. However, if you’ve already joined eFitness, you are already aware that we can help in the monitoring of your program.

Keep in mind that this is about gaining muscle, not having fat loss as your primary goal. Fat loss ratios and calorie calculations are different than the above.


The best way to put on muscle is... carefully. You can't expect to eat pizza and subs every day and put on quality muscle. Muscle doesn't come on quickly. In fact, it takes consistency, hard work and patience. However, I know you want to see some type of meal sample! Again, the following is merely a sample! It's not customized for you, so don’t just use it because it looks good.

Meal spacing is important in order to control blood sugar levels. However, when one wants to put on muscle, it's important to raise blood sugar levels immediately after the workout with a protein/carbohydrate shake. The carb source should be primarily glucose based, such as grape juice. This is prime time to shuttle vital nutrients into the muscle through the manipulation of insulin levels. Meals should be spaced every two to three hours except for the post-workout time frame. A sample meal schedule may look something like this:

6:30-8 a.m. -- egg white omelette, 1 cup oatmeal

9:30 a.m. -- 5 oz. tuna, 4oz. starch, 1 cup vegetables

12:30 p.m. -- 5 oz. chicken breast, 4 oz. sweet potato

3:30 p.m. -- meal replacement shake

6:00 p.m. (post-workout) -- 30-40 grams protein powder, 8 oz. of grape juice

7:00 p.m. -- 5 oz. turkey breast, 1 cup brown rice, 1 cup vegetables

9:00 p.m. -- 1 cup cottage cheese, 1/2 apple, 5 almonds

That’s it! You have most of what you need for success. What brings this to the next level is working directly with eFitness to keep you on track, occasionally "tweak" your program and to provide other strategic tips that set you apart from the pack.




EVENTS –MARCH 24 – APRIL 3, 2005




The Orbit Room
College Street
10:30 pm 
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring Wade O. Brown, Shamakah Ali, Rich Brown, Adrian Eccleston, David Williams.




College Street Bar  
574 College Street (at Manning)  
10:30 pm 
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring Dione Taylor, Sandy Mamane, Davide Direnzo, Justin Abedin, Dafydd Hughes and David French.




Irie Food Joint
745 Queen Street W.
10:00 pm
EVENT PROFILE: The vibe at Irie on Monday was incredibly alive and warm.  Newcomers and regulars alike were enjoying the vibe and promised to come back for more next week.  So, if you know what's good for you, make your way down there next Monday to enjoy the crazy and genius combination of Kayte Burgess and Adrian Eccleston - arrangements that will tantalize your ears and soul. 




Revival Bar  
783 College Street (at Shaw)  
10:00 pm  
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring Rich Brown, Joel Joseph and Shamakah Ali with various local artists. 




The Orbit Room
College Street
10:30 pm 
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring Wade O. Brown, Shamakah Ali, Rich Brown, Adrian Eccleston, David Williams.




College Street Bar
574 College Street (at Manning)
10:30 pm 
EVENT PROFILE: Featuring Dione Taylor, Sandy Mamane, Davide Direnzo, Justin Abedin, Dafydd Hughes and David French




Have a great week!  

Dawn Langfield   
Langfield Entertainment